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Chump Lady Slouches Toward Another Year

Saturday was 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: this post is goopy.

 This year my now-grown son came to visit (because he loves me, and also to mansplain Spotify) and Mr. CL made breakfast tacos and then I inflicted one of my favorite places on them both — Hillwood Gardens. (“There’s a whole greenhouse full of orchids!”) They were good sports

Back to regular programming tomorrow.

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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 55. 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.

My husband 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 care for 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!

Ask Chump Lady

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  • #Sometimes… its the magic of believing in reciprocity of YOURSELF that makes the effort worth it…

    In less than a month, I turn 40…

    Out of the Giant Ball of Wax (my life) I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Executive Business Administration.
    I met my Sweetheart David.
    Just celebrated my (10) year old son.
    (Found out the infidelity occurred 10 days before my 10-year old was born).
    Got DEBT free
    Saving for my house and real estate market to go down.

    I know how to fight “Those people”… Silence!!
    I know when I go back to court to change the schedule in March for new school calendar:
    I have a fantastic lawyer!!
    I already HAVE ALL the TOOLS I need to be confident!!

  • Oh my 40th Bday was a shit show. I had a preschooler and a toddler. The preschooler had autism and I had no idea but I knew something was wrong. I gave up my career and I was bartending at night and I just got off the one two-punch of new years eve and new years day (new years Day is a huge drinking day in my town think parade) I was so tired I hurt and the morning of my bday my fuckwit woke me up to help him with the kids because he could not deal. I wound up taking the kids out to play and cooking my own dinner. I wound up on the kitchen floor with the kids climbing on my head after drinking two beers. My family of origin were worse around this bday.

    My 50th was basically forgotten by everyone. At this point, I had a troubled autistic kid and the next few years were hell. That really started me thinking about getting out because he was not reciprocal and well he spent most of our relationship having me do the pick me dance. My mother who is also a narcissist unfriended me on FB on my 50th birthday no matter she stopped talking to me 5 years before. (mind you she held a gigantic party for my sister on her 50th with people from out of town and stuff)

    I am two years free this birthday I plan to play a show with my new band at a party my friend is holding for all the January Bdays he knows. I will probably go to dinner with my fellow chump and friend who has a bday 2 weeks after mine. I know I will not be around anyone who belittles me or makes me feel unimportant. My 60th is going to be ALL THAT.

    • The idea that a mother would unfriend a child on their birthday just stuns me. Even though it sounds like you had already made peace with a dysfunctional family, I am sorry anyone treated you so cruelly.

      Have fun planning for the 60th! I hope you make it a multi-day event!

      • Thank you. I have 5 years. My mother is 88 and still super toxic. She will die without me talking to her. I made peace with it. It’s hard growing up with toxic parents. I have gone no contact with her and now my ex. I am going to be happy despite their crazy!

        • I COUNT, my mother is just like that. She is 92 and going strong. I haven’t talked to her in 15 years. I still get letters of concern and prayers. Then the last part of letter devalues me, tells me I suck etc. Finally it ends with how I should send her money, buy her stuff. This will make up for my short comings.

          • Do we have the same mother? Yes, I am in her prayers. And also, send money. And for my entire life, if I don’t do everything she says, well, she will die someday and I’ll regret it. 🙄 Bitter and controlling. She talks behind everyone’s back but then cries boo hoo when it bites her in the rear. She has complained about life her entire life. I don’t remember many times when she was happy about anything. It has crossed my mind that someday when she dies it will finally make her happy to escape this horrible, cruel world. She’s nosy and will pester me with a million questions and if anything nice is happening, she will be a killjoy about it. If she calls and I just picked up carryout dinner and she asks what I’m up to, if I tell her, I’ll get a speech about how it must be nice to buy dinner out. But in truth, she dines out more than I do. She is jealous of everybody. It’s crazy.

            The worst thing is that I often look back and realize I ran straight to klootzak to escape her clutches. Had she been a decent, normal mother, I don’t know if klootzak would have looked like such a catch. It didn’t take him much to lovebomb me. I was ripe for the picking. I wish I had seen it all then. I spent over 20 years dominated by her and jumped from the frying pan into the fire. I kick myself for not having seen it then.

    • My parents banished me for 5 years totally unaware that I was going through the worst time of my life. My crime with them was to tell mom that she needed rehab (toxic alcoholic).

      I hate when my friends post on social about how wonderful their parents are…it is marginalizing.

      Now I have money and a white husband and they like me now which almost feels worse than when they hated me and my Latin husband.

      Sorry you are in this sickest. Distance from toxic people even if they birthed you

    • I turned 65 this year. I rented a red Mustang convertible! With my grandsughters playlist full blast (mr. Brightsides and even Bohemian Rhapsody) we drove all over the place- plus a day at the beach- pizza -ice cream- everything. And my kids took me out for a beautiful patio dinner. None of this would ever have happened had i stayed with the resentful , cheap, old cheater guy. What a blast.
      I am 9 years out. It took 5 to really dispell a lot of the sheet sandwiches i had eaten. I am still working on not defaulting to guilt… so much was made all my fault for so long it is hot wired into my soul.
      BUT there are ways of re-wiring and i am doing it.

  • I have no detailed memories of what I did on my 40th birthday. My EX would have given me a small gift and had the kids sing to me. I probably made my own cake because I knew I wouldn’t get one unless I specifically instructed my EX to go buy it. Part of the reason there was little fuss was because he had agreed to watch the kids for 3 days while I went on a long weekend with a lifelong friend to have a mutual celebration (she paid for the trip) later in the summer. His agreement to watch the kids would have been the main gift (and it is the longest he ever took responsibility for them). Weirdly, at the time of our divorce he claimed he had thrown me a huge 40th birthday party. It is such an absurd lie that I never know what to make of it. Does he really think he did that? (Gaslighting still confuses me–I can’t distinguish which lies he thinks he can con me into believing and which he has already convinced himself are true. But I no longer care as I’ve learned to just identify them as lies!)

    Another reason my 40th birthday was not memorable is because I was very isolated at the period in my life. I was busy taking care of the kids and the husband in a community we’d moved to for his job where I had made few friends. I rarely had an hour to myself, and he resented my requests for help with the kids. Everything swirled around his needs and wants.

    This year, I turned 55. My birthday celebrations stretched out over five weeks. Friends I had not seen much of due to the pandemic made sure to see me for coffee or lunch–they brought pastries or cookies or a cupcake with a candle. Family members in multiple states made an effort to see me. I had a handful of mini-parties this year. Nothing was fancy, and I am fine with that. I love having a life filled with people to whom I matter and with whom I have fun.

    I hope CL’s birthday is filled with goopy romance and fun this year!

  • I don’t plan to settle again, because I’ve endured enough mistreatment from men to last a lifetime, however, I don’t believe that Mr. Wonderful is out there for all of us. There just aren’t enough of them to go around. I’m always glad when someone else is happy, so happy birthday, Chumplady and congrats on finding Mr. Right. But I doubt very much that kind of happiness will ever come to me or to a lot of women in our situation. I’m not as pretty as CL and I always found meeting men to be hard even when I was at my peak attractiveness, which I definitely am not at in my late 40’s. Yes, you can find positive things about being alone, but nothing compared to the joy CL described in her post about her happy marriage. Reading this post wasn’t a happy way to start my morning but oh well. Moving on.

    • I’m so sorry that you feel such sadness.
      They say time has a way of healing everything and I truly believe that. I don’t know how far out you are from the devastation of infidelity but perhaps you need more time?

      I don’t have the marital bliss that CL describes but I have found bliss comes in many forms.

      I woke up this morning alone. I took my coffee outside and sat on the curb because the chairs were wet. The sky is blue and the neighborhood still quiet. I’m so happy and grateful for this beautiful morning.

      It took over 10 years to get here. Where I can appreciate even 5 minutes of blissful peace. When I can snatch these few moments to see the beauty around me and stare at the clear sky or even just to appreciate that first cup of coffee, it’s enough for me.

      I doubt I will ever have a “Mr. CL” in my life but I do leave my heart open by choice. I have learned that making strong decisions about what or what isn’t ahead for me shuts my mind off to possibilities.

      3 years ago, I was living alone in my dream house at the beach. In a flash the pandemic changed EVERYTHING! No more house, no more beach. But living through the depression that was the result of the implosion of ny marriage taught me to appreciate the tiny things (again, this took over 10 years!!).

      • I’m with Jennifer and Rebecca in different ways. Rather, both your posts appealed to me. I don’t plan on settling ever again (look what it got me!) and am highly distrustful of the idea of boyfriends or husbands. I feel like it’s just better to be alone at this point.

        And that’s okay. I wake up alone and, much like Rebecca, I look at my life and the world around me and soak in all the bliss. Am I lonely sometimes? Yes. But I also adore this independent. There is so much to be thankful for.

      • Rebecca,

        Your post resonated greatly with me. To enjoy the simple things in life unpartnered. The peaceful morning, the sunrise, a cup of coffee; autonomous living without betrayals, waiting for the other shoe to drop or emotional grenades. The whirlwind has stopped and calm has ensued. Like a war torn soldier coming home exhausted from the horrors of war. The quietness and peace never felt so good or appreciated more.

        I was extremely naive prior to Dday. I trusted way too much and believed way too much. Today I am a major skeptic. Men in generalities fall into that sink hole of mistrust. Even my divorce lawyer (male) who seems to have disappeared from my case even though he still has thousands of retainer money. After hiring him I found out he divorced after a long marriage and remarried a much younger woman. His first wife who he divorced and I share the same first name. Maybe hes punishing her vicariously by screwing me over? I cant seem to get a hold of him. Or its just my perceptions are off. I tried though. I did try to get away. Im just tired now. At least I live seperately. Im thankful for that.

    • I know a lot of average to not so attractive women and many are coupled up. Their boyfriends aren’t someone I would want by my side though, as some are rather problematic. One has a gambling problem, another cheated on his ex wife, another one is super controlling etc. So I don’t think it’s necessarily about how attractive anyone is, but rather than meeting men isn’t the problem as such, it’s meeting any man that is worth anything that seems to be the issue.

      Even my ex, has a good job and all, but he’s still married to me and didn’t even start divorce proceedings, his son barely speaks to him, and yet the OW now current partner is about to have a baby with him (having never met the baby’s big brother to be, my son lol). Would I want to be with such a man? No, because it’s messy. But apparently she’s perfectly content with it. I’m also prettier than her, and yet…

      Idk. I also don’t think there’s someone out there for everyone. My ridiculously good looking sister has been single for years since splitting up from the father of her child (not cheating related). My strikingly beautiful 34 yo friend (as in tall-slim-long black hair-everyone turns when they see her beautiful) has been single for years after her divorce, her dates have all been disasters. I’m fairly good looking too and look far younger than my 40 and I only met men whom I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. Never married at my age or older? Makes me suspicious. Divorced? I always assume he did something. Or his interests don’t match mine. Or his idea of fun is “socialising” (whatever that means, it drives me insane). So yeah I get it, you have to be very lucky not only to meet men but to meet those who are worth any of your time and you fit in well with, and as we get older they are less and less.

      Can we be happy single forever? Maybe. It’s definitely better than going through all the strife a failing relationship can bring. But I get how you fell, it makes a little sad, too.

      • I agree with you ladies. I genuinely don’t think there is a Mr. CL for everyone. Oh if you’re willing to “settle” (and by that I DON’T mean Mr. CL, of course) then I’m sure you can find someone. Hell, I see that happening constantly with my son’s MIL, who I am fairly friendly with. She cannot be on her own and so has had a long string of men for whom she settled rather than be alone. Heck, the one she’s with at the moment is nice enough but the way she talks about him it’s as though she’s mommying him because he can’t think for himself (he’s in his 50s). I turned 63 on Friday and will have been divorced 10 years in December and you know what – I just can’t be arsed any more! I won’t settle for just anyone and, to be honest, I kinda like my life just as it is, spending my money how I want, doing what I want, when I want with nobody to answer to – you know, just like my husband used to do when we were married! Nah, rock on being single!

        • Thanks for this! I really treasure the posts of people making it on their own and finding happiness as a single woman. Those are so uplifting. Unfortunately there really isn’t someone for everyone, even though we were raised on fairy tales and happily-ever-after stories and believed that since we were good and ever hopeful, there must be someone wonderful out there after all the horribleness. I’m 63 too. Divorced since 2007. Never found a suitable partner after that (or actually ever, considering the ex). Reciprocity is quite rare, in my experience.

          It takes some getting used to, to put yourself first when you’ve spent your life basically waiting on everybody else (trained from childhood), but doing what you want when you want and not having to constantly work for others and negotiate everything is great!

    • I feel you. Relationships male or female have always been difficult for me. I never felt like I fit in anywhere and still don’t and that makes me vulnerable to narcissists. I’ve come to accept that is just who I am and becoming more aware of that weakness. I have managed to develop a few good friends who have been with me for many years and my sons are good to me. For that I feel blessed. I send you love and compassion and virtual hugs. Love comes in many forms.

    • FWIW, I had two crappy husbands when I was much younger and much thinner. It’s not about “pretty” — there’s definitely an element of great fortune, and I don’t deny that. I also don’t believe that you’re finished after 40 or 50 or 60 or whatever. Life is risk. I know many, many people who married in mid-life and in old age and no one was a super model. (My former boss remarried at 86 and the groom was 91. They’re still going, two years later) I had two neighbors on my ONE street in Lockhart, Texas, a small town, who remarried in midlife — one woman had four children, the other six children. Those guys raised those kids as their own. It’s HARD to put yourself out there and life can be perfectly satisfying alone. But you have no idea what your life has in store.

  • Happy Birthday CL!
    I’m sorry for the birthday shit and all that came with it. But we all celebrate that you planted this blog in that shit and we are the beneficiaries of the thriving tree that grew. Some hang onto the trunk for dear life, we gradually pull ourselves up towards the branches, scraping against the bark as we go, and eventually we reach the highest branches and gaze out at the beautiful landscape below.
    Mr. CL is a gem that you truly deserve!
    The love of your son, friends, family and the CN universe are well earned.
    You are only as old as you allow yourself to feel. At 64 I’m sledding, rolling down hills and sliding down slides and loving every second.
    Enjoy the year ahead 🥰 and know how much you are loved and appreciated by everyone that knows you!

  • Happy Birthday, Chump Lady!

    When it comes to reciprocity and gifts, I’m afraid we at Chump Nation are on the receiving end of your generous gift of your experience, your wisdom, your caring, your snark. I don’t know if our collective and individual gratitude, and the ways in which we take your advice and wisdom and snark to heart and apply them to our lives approaches any sort of reciprocity for you, but I hope so. Because I don’t know where to buy a pinecone elf or where to send one if I did.

  • Happy birthday Chump Lady!! Oh my goodness how I love you!! Thank you for everything and your book and most of all your snark! ❤️
    I have met a pretty good dude who was a childhood friend and lived 1 house away from me growing up. He came from a broken home but somehow managed to have a wonderful life. I am grateful that I have met him and we will see how it turns out. I am hoping for the best!
    Hugs to you and Mr. CL and your son! You are blessed beyond measure and I am so happy to know you! God bless and many more! Hugs from Las Vegas, Nevada ❤️

  • Happy birthday CL! So happy for your relationship reciprocity, for partners that appreciate each other, that are kind and loving.

    My 40th birthday – I bought myself a fake diamond bracelet because then-H wouldn’t buy me anything. We did conceive our daughter that night, unplanned, but turned out to be the best thing we did.

    My 55th birthday, divorced, rebounding with the love-bomber that I didn’t realize was cheating on me, was spent chaperoning the high school marching band at a competition. 1 year later, shortly after D-Day, I realized that on my 55th birthday he was screwing the OW while texting me to find out when I was coming back from that trip.

    57 years old – just passed the 1st anniversary of D-Day. I enjoy my young cats – my Covid/breakup therapy pets. I’m with a wonderful nerdy man who gives me my space and doesn’t pressure me into declarations of love. My teen daughter is a Sour Patch Kid (sweet, then sour) but a good kid overall. I am finally content.

  • When I drive to work, I pass an ugly used car lot which used to be a dreadful restaurant which is where Cheater took me and the kids on my 40th birthday. Oldest son was uncharacteristically cranky and took whatever joy I might have had after begging to be taken somewhere. Neither my parents nor sibling acknowledged it at all.

    Learned later that Cheater had his head inserted way up Susan of Seattle’s butt at the time.
    The smoking gun was a letter that he wrote her on her birthday. The next year, we were “in” wreckonciliation and he totally forgot my birthday…seems he was still with Susan.

    I still stayed…all drugged up on hopium.

    When I turned 50, I went on a yacht cruise in the Aegean Sea (compete with chef). Yea, life got much, much better.

  • Dear CL – Sounds like a lovely birthday – so well deserved. Your intellect and writing gifts have provided a very rare resource for chumps. It’s life saving.

    So, I have a question. What is your birthday wish for for mighty action by the rest of us chumps? When we get through the shit show, when we have a full appreciation of reciprocity – what are your hopes for survivors to create societal change?

    More specifically – what actions are needed? Are there public voices which give you hope?

    • Stand up and don’t shut up.

      If you find a victim-blaming narrative somewhere that is patently stupid SPEAK UP — I cannot control what I don’t know about / I did not consent / deception is a shit tool in the relationship tool kit.

      Many, many people here are voices of hope. I think CN has moved the needle. It just takes a bit of gumption to push back and not care if people know you were chumped. You’re not the person that should be mortified. How does anything change? People get sick of eating shit sandwiches and spit them out.

      I’d be curious who you find hopeful. I do enjoy Hausfrau’s writing and community. I wish I’d had something like it when I was a single parent back in the day.

      • Thought about this all day without much luck. I no longer listen to the podcasts about narcissists – too formulaic. The book choices are few and less helpful than LACGAL.

        Strong public women who survive infidelity often continue to work with or remain friends with the cheater even if they divorced. I know Madeline Albright may have had a different experience.

        Who kicked ass and advocated for justice? Maybe the fictional characters in the First Wives Club? The current Netflix show On the Verge written by and starring Julie Delpy has a husband character named Martin who is a gaslighting douche.

        Maybe others can think of more examples of real life chump advocates?

        • The ones I really loved was Elizabeth Edwards and Maria Shiver. They were(are)tough, beautiful and strong women who didn’t take shit. Just my opinion xo

  • Happy birthday CL!

    I read your post and this part got to 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.”

    It’s too early in the morning to cry but my eyes made the attempt. Then I drank more coffee and read on, thinking about the idea of reciprocity. I loved FW so much and so hard and it was only seemingly reciprocated in kind during our courtship and the earlier years of our marriage. I can’t pinpoint when he stopped trying to approximate the appearance of loving reciprocation but I’m sure it crept in slowly like a fog. I can’t remember much in the way of gifts (perhaps they weren’t memorable? That’s why I can’t remember them?) but I do remember showing him how I loved him and not seeing that returned in smaller ways, which to me were huge: he stopped holding my hand, he never kissed me on the cheek or the lips in public, and he never got up to greet me (or turn his head to acknowledge me) when I would get home. I spoke to him about these moments and how they made me feel (after all, I thought, a marriage is all about communication and it would be unfair of me to think he could read my mind) and I modelled the behavior that I valued in order to show him how I felt: I tried to hold his hand when we were out (he would pull away); I tried to kiss him on the cheek in public (he would turn his head); and I always, always, always would get up to greet him at the door or otherwise acknowledge that I was happy he was home and I wanted to know about his day (he never reciprocated this).

    No, I can’t recall much in the ways of birthdays or gifts, but I do recall feeling like I was putting a lot of love and effort into these smaller things and how heartbreaking it was to realize that these affectations were not returned.

    And of course they weren’t. I didn’t know it at the time but he had his new girlfriend lined up and was in full devalue-the-unneeded wife mode. There was no reason for him to pretend with me anymore; he only pretended long enough to give him time to figure out what to do next with me as I was less of a wife and mother to his two babies and more of a problem to figure out how to get rid of without making him look bad. D-Day #1 would come later. It’s no surprise that those little moments of affection, pretended or not, stopped entirely; I wasn’t a wife–I was a problem that he had to get rid of.

    So, to circle back, I can’t even fathom such generosity of gift giving on my birthday from someone who delights in delighting me, although it sounds wonderful! For me, I’m starting here: I deserve someone who wants to hold my hand; I deserve someone who dares to give me a kiss in public; and I deserve someone who is genuinely happy to see me.

    I won’t settle for less but I also don’t really want to trust someone again because, as I’ve found out, a good actor can approximate these behaviors until I am no use to them anymore.

    So, I think I may get a dog. And I’ll treat myself to something really nice for my birthday, which is coming up.

    • Fourleaf, my whippet puppy is snuffling round my feet as I eat breakfast (UK). Ex didn’t like animals (‘a tie’). I had wanted us to get a dog for about 15 years. Especially following a last chance miscarriage (he went to work while it was ongoing). He said ‘one day’ with a smirk, knowing ‘one day’ would never come for us as a couple. Our relationship was much like yours in terms of avoidance, dismissal and me trying very, very hard to make a wrong thing right because I loved him so much. I received fantastic gifts when they were trips and experiences which he bragged about to family, friends etc. Physical gifts were formulaic and when I asked for something what I received was ‘off’ eg very masculine, always grey or black, no brightness, not quite what I had asked for. My parents adopted the same approach to gift giving. My puppy is bright, joyful, makes me smile much more than the ex ever did. He is a beautiful tie. I love him with all my heart. Two years out, and aged 61, this little chap is my adventure partner. He was my 61st birthday present from me to me. I also send flowers to myself once a month, because I truly am special and I deserve it. Go for it, when you feel ready.

      Happy Birthday CL and thank you 🙏

  • Happy Birthday, CL!

    When I first read CL’s book (which I, fortunately, discovered on D-Day while frantically searching Google for help/sanity/whatever), I remembered getting pissed off when I came to that last chapter about gaining a life. “You must rebuild,” CL says. “Do not let your cheater be the last thing you ever invest in.” WTF??? Dammit. I was in no mood for that. Plus, in my can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, constant-crying state, I couldn’t imagine what the hell she was talking about. So, I just kept re-reading/listening to the chapters I liked and ignoring the last one.

    That was two years ago (almost to the day).

    Now I get it. Gaining a life *is* the point. That last chapter has nuggets like this, which give me strength and hope, despite the occasional backslide:

    From LAC;GAL: “Get over it. The pain is finite. Don’t choose it. Don’t keep reliving it, either. Infidelity does not define you. It’s no measure of your soul, or your worthiness and lovability….Getting over it is not denying that this happened to you. You don’t have to hold on to that righteous anger to know that the infidelity was real…Getting over it means they didn’t break you…There is freedom in losing everything and knowing that you survived. Bring it on universe! I’ve faced worse. Rejection is your superpower. You stared that motherfucker down and you won. So when an opportunity presents itself now? Say Yes….Your heart was forged in a blast furnace. You got this.”

    Thanks, CL. And thank God you were born and are helping so many chumps survive the shit show. Happy birthday!

    • Same. When I read that at first I just wouldn’t connect with. But recently I’ve been telling myself, it’s been a year it’s time to move on. You have no choice. It creeps in sometimes, wondering if this pain really is finite or it will be something that will sting and then swallow me forever. But I don’t want it to be, so I’ll do what I can not to let it happen.

    • Yes! Happy birthday Chumplady! I am so grateful to have found you and Chump Nation at a very low point in my life. That was 4 years ago, and it feels like a lifetime. You helped me at all the stages of my grief and ensuing struggle to get out. I finally reached meh and I am starting to really feel what it is like to re-gain a life. It feels like joy, and freedom and possibilities! 4 years ago I didn’t think it was possible but here I am. Thank you all for all your advice, support and sharing all your painful experiences, it made a world of difference.

      ❤️

  • Happy Birthday to Chump Lady!

    Please consider supporting her on Patreon. This blog helped my gain my life, and Patreon is but a small way to pay it forward

    ❤️

  • Happy Birthday, Tracy!

    May your book and your steadfast dedication to helping the betrayed be universally recognized one day as the saintly service to humankind that it is. Thank you!

  • I always love this post! Why? Because it’s a wonderful reminder to all that you can find happiness after shit. Happy birthday CL. Cheers!

  • Last year was my 45th. StBX (FW2) got me a Malificent black diamond necklace. Then he told me I could wear it when we went on dates.
    My world tipped over. That was part of the tangled mess of DDay 2… Let’s Have An Open Relationship. FW1 also suggested the same thing and I gave it a go, despite all of the emotional and sexual abuse and yet here I was reliving the same story.
    I promised myself I just had to get through Christmas, he did his first 180 and filled that Hopium pipe up for me.
    I’m happy to report that DDay 3 was the end of that toxic mess. I look forward to reciprocity and finding my special someone that can’t hear me laugh enough, who takes an annoying amount of pictures of me, who loves me like I deserve to be loved.

  • What a glorious reminder that life does go on.

    I don’t have a romantic interest, but life on the other side is truly good. It took a crazy amount of time and the services of a top-notch legal team, but I got there.

  • It is interesting to me that most of the posts I’ve read this morning come from chumps who do not expect to find a new partner. I am in this group. I am happy CL did, but I realize her message was gain a new life, not gain a new partner. I believe this is a very important distinction.

    My birthday is a few days before CL’s. My family has always been good about acknowledging birthdays. My Ex’s, not so much. My mother told me once my father had never had a birthday cake until they were married. He always professed that the fuss was ridiculous, but it didn’t stop him from shoveling cake in like there was no tomorrow. I know I was not happy on my 40th birthday, even though I was married, had a good job, two fine sons, and a nice home. There was no love left in my marriage, and I knew I had to get out. I also knew it would take time because of my children. So I had to figure out how to get out, survive, and keep a roof over my kids heads. It was going to take time. That knowledge was the gift that kept on giving (not).

    I still had a way to go to gain the life I wanted. I had to meet and survive the love bomber. I had to move several times, and change jobs. I had to get my sons thru school, and navigate the dangerous “teen years.” I had so much work to do I really did not have time to fall apart or to dream about what I really wanted. I just had to escape from what I did not want.

    Reciprocation is my definition of what is acceptable in any relationship. If being a co-dependent means being in love with the potential of things, I have to plead guilty. I could always see potential. I just could not tell that I was looking at a mirage, until it was too late. Now, my vision has improved. Now I am much happier than I have ever been. But now I have boundaries and I do not give any part of myself to anyone who doesn’t practice reciprocity.

    This weekend I had lunch with a friend who has tried marriage 5 times. She had a bad childhood, she married young and had a child when she was very young. In each relationship she listened to the opinion of others, and gave her best effort. But she did not take time to learn who she was and what she needed. She did not learn she did not have to have a man in her life to be whole. That one cultural belief kept her trapped for many years. I hope she has finally figured it out, but I am not sure. It is a powerful message to overcome. You do not have to have a partner to be a whole person, or happy. If you do, great, but it is the icing, not the cake. Don’t define your happiness as being part of a couple. Find what activities make you happy, and be happy. I really believe if you are happy you will attract other like minded individuals into your life. They will love you for you, not because you are pretty, or a good provider. They will want to be around your contentment and joy because that is a pleasant place to be.

  • I totally understand the reciprocity thing. I was married for 21 years and now divorced 5-1/2 years. I had no idea how much I gave and how much he took in my marriage until I started dating 2-1/2 years later. I met a man and we dated for a year or so. (It eventually didn’t work out). But one of the things I had to get used to was this man wanting to do nice things for me. He loved to cook my favorite meals. That was sooooo hard for me at first. It made me feel guilty for a while. I had no idea that the other half of the relationship was supposed to put in some effort. There were other things too. Like wanting to do thing I wanted to do. I’ll never go backwards again. Even though it didn’t work out I got a taste of what working together looked like

    • Lorie,

      Your post spoke to me.

      I am working on being comfortable with reciprocity. I am dating someone that has never been married. (Typically, a red flag for me.) But I think in this man’s case, he is really someone that is very nerdy and somewhat shy. He doesn’t “sparkle”. He’s incredibly smart and accomplished (Ivy League) and successful (physician), but his clothes are often wrinkled and he drives a crappy car. He’s transparent about his life, including finances. He’s emotionally available and our relationship progresses at a healthy cadence. It was my birthday last month and the man showed up to take me to a very nice dinner, had bought a house plant for me and wrote a very sweet card in which he said how happy he was to celebrate my birthday with me (we’d only been dating for 2 months). It was so kind. The wounded part of myself struggles with this as I think I should have to work harder for his kindness. Keeping those feelings in check have been difficult – plus hyper-vigilance.

      • Nerd, shmerd.
        I have a former colleague, a dynamo of a woman in her late 50s, never married, who dated and then married a socially awkward math nerd. Both have unorthodox interests, and they support each other. They make a wonderful couple and complement each other. I am so happy for both of them.

      • Nokibble4u
        I hope things work out with your new friend! Trust your instincts and respect your boundaries! Good luck, I’m rooting for you!!😘
        P.S. who cares about a car as long as it runs! lol 😂

      • People can marry for the first time in (late) middle age for who knows what reason.

        My uncle, a scientist at a world renowned uni, valedictorian at a top New England boarding and BS and PhD from Harvard, married at 50. Super nerd whose marriage proposal had been rejected by two other women. His mother was such a bitch on wheels I’m not surprised. She did shape my father, this uncle’s older brother, to grow up to be a narcissistic abuser after all.

        One of my girlfriends in her fifties has never married because she is “still working on fixing the picker.”

  • I think it is wonderful when chumps find an equally good soul to connect with and spend their life. I am not closed to the idea, but I may enjoy my independence too much. I love my life: pursuing my own goals, traveling, moving, changing, and growing as I see fit. I am grateful to live in a country, at the right time in history, that I can be an independent woman. I think I have spent too much of my life sacrificing myself for others, and bending myself to keep others happy. I want to be selfish now, and donate my time and energy only as I desire.

  • Happy Birthday Tracy! You have changed my life and I will forever be grateful.

    Dday I was 47– my birthday that year was spent in my mirage (not marriage – thanks for the great pun, VH) and later learned XH was in 2 affairs, or more, at that time.

    Fast forward 7 years/5 from divorce. My fiancé made a lovely BBQ, bought flowers and a heartfelt card and hiking gear I wanted. I’m in a relationship where there is no “confusion.” He wants to be monogamous and with me as his partner. Our relationship wants and needs match. If that changes, I will be sad but I will choose me and be ok.

    Xxxooo

  • The happiest of happy birthdays, Chump Lady, and many more to come! Your birthday post is such a testament to hope and keeping on going even when all that is keeping you upright is the deep shit you are in. And that you probably have to leave your shoes behind if you are going to get out of it!

    I had the most wonderful 60th birthday celebrations a month ago. My youngest brother sent me 2.5kg of top quality chocolate. Which I have just finished off. My youngest son who still lives with me brought me coffee and cake for breakfast (it was 11am, ok?) The weather – often chancy at this time of year in my part of the world – on my birthday was fine and mild, sunny all day with no breeze. My lovely children did a surprise thing. They told me what time to be ready and they all turned up at my home looking pretty spiffy. They had hired a limousine (much to the amusement of my neighbours) and the six of us piled in, drank champagne and had a tour of a few local sights and took photos, then were delivered to the door of a beachside restaurant I love where we ate wonderful food and drank some more and had a riotous time. Then we all ubered back to my house and they produced a cake fail – which have become a kind of tradition. We were all somewhat squiffy and the lemon meringue pie almost broke in half and the six and oh candles fell off half way to the table. Hilarity ensued.

    Also they gave me beautiful thoughtful gifts and flowers. The nicest thing was that they listened to me and put all my throwaway remarks together into this lovely occasion. I’d never been in a limo or had a party just for me that I didn’t have to in some way organise and clean up after, I’ve always had special happy times at that restaurant.

    And that was just the first instalment. One of my two favourite sisters took me to lunch at a little riverside cafe in a place that I love, and where I hope I can live eventually. Again, beautiful weather and a lovely time.

    And then my two favourite sisters took me to dinner at a just lovely traditional French restaurant and we had a truly magnificent meal, speccy cocktails and very very nice French champagne. Capped off by the staff bringing me my dessert with sparklers and all singing happy birthday. I talked a lot and laughed loudly, got tiddly, spilt my wine and dropped a bit of food on my front and no-one rolled their eyes or insulted me or got angry. They just said what a great top, the food stain disappeared!

    And earlier in the year, my friend took me to see Westside Story on the stage for my birthday treat, with dinner afterwards. It was such a fantastic performance, very lively, polished and classy, and a thoroughly enjoyable night.

    As a little comparison to show you how low my birthday bar had dropped:

    My 40th was I think an afternoon tea, though my 2 nicest sisters had wanted to organise a dinner for me – my gxh said no, he was planning an afternoon tea. That I had to wash up after. Plush.

    For 50th, all my six siblings pooled together and gave me quite a lot of money to go out with the family for a slap-up dinner somewhere really nice. That turned into a Chinese meal, with the bulk of the money magically disappearing into my gxh’s wallet where it, I suspect (though never been able to prove it) became the exact faux antique dining setting he had long coveted that he swore to me he found for free on a verge collection. Thing was, we had 7 people living in our home at the time, and it only had six seats. Who was there no chair for? You guessed it – muggins. The big Ikea solid wood dining table that I loved (with its 8 chairs – always room for one more) and that he hated was left outside to be warped and ruined. Emblematic of our marriage really.

    I finally wised up 5 years ago and planned my exit, lawyered up and left, a month before our 25th wedding anniversary. Its a journey and I am still working on FOO issues … but at last I have a life where I can breathe and be myself again, without my quirks and hearts desires being the source of cruelty, insult and disdain. There are fewer people in my life, but better people.

    I won’t be settling, because I am a one and done woman. I’m not doing that again! I am working towards a life where I am happy and fulfilled unpartnered when all my children have left home.

    One more thing: My dear youngest sister put me on to Chump Lady. CL, you and your clear-sighted wisdom and the courageous sharing of the stories, tragedies, triumphs, wisdom and mightiness of everyone in Chump Nation has brought me much further along in recovery (according to my therapist) than many people who are five years out of a long abusive marriage and also dealing with the damage of long-term FOO issues. When I did it the Chump Lady way, I felt better – when I didn’t, things went skewiff just as you and Chump Nation predicted they would. You tell the truth and it really does set you free.

    So again, a very happy birthday to you Chump Lady with many, many, many happy returns.

    • “I won’t be settling, because I am a one and done woman. I’m not doing that again! I am working towards a life where I am happy and fulfilled unpartnered when all my children have left home.”

      This is my plan too!

    • Yes, very likely “one and done” here too. Sure I get a little lonely and wistful at times, but it passes. Truly! I’ve seen friends go through a “gray” divorce like me and quickly remarry only to get back into trouble again. I’m not going there.

      • Fourleaf and Elsie, I realised while writing that I had all these people in my life for years who loved me just because I was me – my sisters, my kids, a friend or two. But the people in my life who made me feel less-than stopped me from believing that I was loved by anyone.

        I’m still learning to accept and believe that I’m lovable and that people also value my love. The idea is scary and overwhelming and seems too beautiful and easy to be true – that I am loved and lovable for who I am. That I don’t have to sweat blood trying to fit some criteria to earn love as a pay-off.

        That love is reciprocal but not transactional.

        So I’m really saying I don’t feel the need for another intimate partner because my life is filled with people who I love and who love me. Now. As we are.

        My religious faith is transforming likewise – less fire of hell, more fire of love. Less fear, more trust. Being honest about people who have harmed me and trying to find a truthful way to love them. Being honest about harm I’ve done to people and seeking forgiveness. Trying to make amends on their terms, not mine.

        Now I find the clear air of aloneness calming and peaceful. Less an oasis from chaos and a brief hiatus from having to measure up to constantly shifting goalposts, and more a gift of space where good things can and do happen.

        The searing experiences of the last 15 years of my marriage showed me how terrifyingly easy it was for me to worship false gods and fight to save the wrong parts of something going rotten. How easy it is for intimacy be a cover for evil and cruelty. I nearly sacrificed my children and my own soul on the altar of staying together. I’ve never seen a healthy marriage close-up. Not one.

        Which is a fancy way of saying I don’t trust my picker! And I can live with that, given how much love I finally discovered I have in my life already. Gaining a life 😍

    • “One and done” I think that’s how I feel. It was an experience in my life. I don’t need to do it again. Sorry I wasted so many years on it but have the rest to look forward to now.

      And your comment that “no one rolled their eyes or insulted me or got angry…” that is the goal right there. Removing that bad feeling they give you from your life. Just to be free from that and surrounded by good souls sounds amazing. I have friends who also don’t mind if I laugh to loud or spill something. I can see that in my future. I need to add that to my vision board somehow.

      • Its such a mind-shift isn’t it? Accepting and liking yourself and keeping only those in your life who do the same. You will get there. I like the idea of a vision board.

  • My birthday is in mid-October, which is my favorite month of the year–I feel lucky to have been born there–and in my mind ushers in the whole wonderful holiday season that runs through December. Two months after my birthday of the year I turned 40, my father shot himself in the head. The following week, the week before Christmas, I picked up from the post office the box of presents he’d mailed off before he killed himself; I took the box from the postal clerk and walked out of the post office to my car like an old woman, slowly, weeping openly.

    Whatever lack of effort or reciprocity my husband displayed in later years on my birthday–and there was a decided lack of effort on his part–it never hurt as much as the fact that he never once, in the remaining 25+ years after my father’s death that we were married, ever acknowledged either the date of my father’s death or that his suicide affected my feelings during the holiday season.

    Despite (or maybe because of) my now-ex’s failure to acknowledge that event and my loss, I began setting aside the date of my father’s suicide as a day of meditation on my life. On that date, I take stock of my life; I look back, at the present, consider where I am (so to speak) and where I want to be looking forward. The day I went to the court hearing for our divorce falls midway between my birthday and my the date of my father’s suicide, my day of meditation now includes thinking about the progress I’ve made since my ex killed our marriage on D-Day.

  • Happy birthday you, dear Tracy. May every birthday be as fine as the one you write about here.

    May all of us learn the difference between abuse, indifference, and lack of reciprocity and the kindness, effort, and reciprocity represented by how Nomar engages in relationship.

    And may all chumps who do not yet have their version of a good, kind partner treat themselves to celebrations for birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s/Father’s Day, Groundhog Day, and Tuesday. If we learn to treat ourselves well, we can learn to recognize when someone else treats us well.

    Finally, CL’s XH is a case study in how deliberate these sociopathic abusers can be. He is a terrible man.

  • Happy Birthday, CL! You give us gifts several times per week, year in and year out. Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy a well-deserved wonderful birthday.

    • Agree 100% that CL gives us all gifts several times per week……and the really good thing for me after reading her thoughts is how many times the chumps step in and support all the other chumps especially those in crisis at the time. I find joy and it warms my heart just to think about how so many people are helping others on this site and being able to witness this every day of the week. It was a joy for me to join Patreon and to play a very small part in keeping this going. I think I am a “one and done” person too and it is not always easy but there is nothing like drinking a simple tea and reading this site. Tracy: Happy, Happy BD! Many, many more is my wish for you and Mr. CL! Love your snark and can not thank you enough for your wisdom.

  • Did nyone notice if their ex tried to take back birthday presents and gifts in the divorce? My ex went out of his way to demand back everything he could think of that either he gave me or others in his family gave me, including gifts from his relatives who are now deceased. He even claimed that one valuable item was a gift to HIM. Fortunately, I had his own emails mentioing the item and that I owned it; otherwise, he might have gotten away with his lies that it was his.

    • That’s hilarious. They are so entitled, aren’t they? FW moved out of my house 4 years ago, and the divorce has been finalized for over 3 years. He just messaged me telling me he plans to pick up “his” tools from my garage. Sometimes you just have to laugh at their stupidity.

    • Yes, the gift take-back. Mine not only wanted back every single thing he ever gave me, but he also kept all my cool things that he had taken for himself. I had thought it was sweet how he loved my stuff so much. In hindsight I see he planned my discard far, far ahead. He set me up.

      No matter. I wasn’t sorry to see him go; what I struggled with was why I ever put up with him in the first place.

    • My new husband carried lingering hurt/trauma from the stuff his XW insisted on (then later disposed of without offering the pieces to him). To recover from this sense of loss, we set out on trips to replace the items and had grand adventures doing so. He wanted an antique coffee grinder from Europe and found one at a flea market in Prague. A lamp in my office is one he bought to replace one XW ran off with.

    • Goodfriend apart from some jewellery I left most of the gifts behind – he’d really bought them for himself anyway. The gifted jewellery that I did take I subsequently gave to someone to put in an online charity fundraising auction. Very healing. What was sad baggage for me became joy for someone else. People had fun. Money went to a meaningful cause. My heart was lighter. And indirectly my mean-spirited gxh finally gave to charity. 😆😆

    • I spent my 60th birthday splitting wood feeling like an Amazon queen and younger than I had in years. I’m looking 68 in the face in about two weeks, and wishing I could be 60 again. Carpe diem, everyone!

      • PS: I didn’t mean to imply it’s all downhill from 60. I was 61 on D-Day. And the few years after that I spent gobsmacked and pick me dancing, plus the divorce, really took a toll. I’m now determined that 70 is going to be a re-run of 60.

        • Do it Adelante! 70 is your new 60. ❤💪 Before COVID My 60 was going to be in Europe on bus tours visiting the wonderful places gxh wasn’t interested in seeing. Maybe that will be my 70 instead.

  • I am so ridiculously happy for you! Chumped but now happy boys and gals are such an inspiration. Happy Birthday, and as you know all the future ones will be better.

    My present for my 40th, which was a year ago, was a dinner with the OW and her husband and our small kids, after we spent a week vacationing together. Few months later I got to my D-Day and in his words, they have been lovers for years; and he wanted to make my 40th a celebration for me because of COVID I was so lacking in adult company. I am glad that his idea of celebrating me was having a dinner with his mistress. Can I please pick a pen over the memory of their laughing together and toasting to my health?

    • What is it with FW and birthdays? Mine announced he wanted a divorce a few days before my 45th birthday. I guess it was my expiration date? He then proceeded to ask me what I wanted to eat for my birthday dinner, what a psychopath… but since then I made it a point to reclaim my birthday. It’s my special day with my kids, completely FW free. It will be in a few weeks, and a renewed celebration of my freedom. I am freshly divorced, enjoying being single, and I’ll get something nice for myself, do something I love and NOT think about him even a little bit.

  • Happy Birthday and Thank You for all you’ve done and continue to do! You woke up a 59 year old to what was going on in her confused mind having been married to a narrsistic sphociopath over 20 years ! Divorced four years now and although there are four guys wanting a chance at me , I don’t see how any would work out. At 63 though people think I’m 40, the hopeful to be with that someone special wanes as much as the limited text of spell check words on my phone. That’s ok , being alone and studying the dictionary can be fashionable if I choose it to be. Casual serenity and lack of cheater and lies drama suits me just fine! Life is about opportunity . Who knows what tomorrow brings!

  • Happy happy birthday to you, oh Queen of hurt, chaos and confusion land! ( quite the kingdom to manage!)
    So wonderful to read your birthday story and to hear how much you can feel the love in your life. It makes me feel really grateful that someone who puts such goodness into the world, gets to feel a bit in return. (Thank God that’s true!!)
    Seems logical that that would be the case, but how many good ppl have we read about throughout history that gave so much to the world and had basically mortal really crappy lives of their own? (Way the hell too many.)
    Glad you got the happy ending to your story, or at least you got the things that feel worthy to value, like deep love and caring being given and reciprocated.
    Your “ butterfly effect” on this earth is a gift to us all and I can say with complete sincerity that the world seems a little better a place because you inhabit it. As corny as that appears on paper, it could literally not feel more true.
    It’s like watching a movie and the good guy gets to win, we all get to celebrate that. The “phoenix rising from the ashes” kind of metaphor and ,you know, even if it hasn’t happened to many of us chumps yet or maybe will never fully be realized to the extent we would like it to be, we take joy in knowing it does exist and are sooo much better off knowing that possibility is a viable outcome. We all benefit when any one of us gets to be okay in the world.
    You are a light of hope to those in dark and hopeless places, and you illuminate with skilled wit and very solid truths for those drowning in unfathomable lies for what feels like forever.
    You are a drink at the oasis in the middle of the Sahara. What better guide out of hell than another bone-dry,parched chump?!
    Thanks so much for your countless hours and generosity of spirit and I joyfully hope you feel that love ‘to infinity and beyond’ because it quite selfishly feels amazing to see one of the ‘good guys’ doing really good!

  • happy birthday, CL. 55 is a good age. you know things, right?

    thanks for your snark + wisdom + understanding, all born from hurt. you’re not afraid to rip the bandages off and take a good look at the wounds. and we all know that debriding deep wounds creates the proper foundation for healing, for without debridement wounds are trapped in the first stage of healing, and that’s no good.

    now i picture you gloved, in scrubs and a face shield, wielding sterilized medical instruments.

  • Happy Birthday, Tracy! 🎈

    Sorry I dropped off the radar. Hope all is well with you and your family 😘

  • I always love this one. Snif, so sweet. I have learned so much about relationships here! Why didn’t they teach this in high school? Well anyway, I’ve had an interesting life, in spite of being also addicted to potential, that many times never materialized. I do have my kids, and a granddaughter even! Life is peaceful, and I’m so grateful. Belated Happy Birthday, dear CL, you’re a mensch, too!

  • Reciprocity with a fuckwit is a mindfuck.

    When someone who believes and gets you to believe, that just allowing you to be a part of thier life is a gift, anything else is just extravagant.

    The pen probably felt generous.

    • My h told me once that providing a roof over my head and food should be enough
      I told him that a live in maid earns at least 800$/ week

      My 30th bdays were horrible
      We were abroad… night before my bday my h started an argument ( oh, I was so awfully demanding- wanted to have a sex with my husband- preDDay event) we had a huge fight.
      The morning of my bday- h left before I woke up, our 2 kids (under 5) stayed with me
      He didn’t leave me any money, but took the car to the city
      I was in the house with 2 kids, heartbroken- with his relatives for the rest of a day.
      No one remembered my bday.
      In the late afternoon the flowers& a cake arrived surprising everyone ( wtf- for whom? Why)
      Yes, oh how many praises I heart- such a loving husband… hardworking- but still made such a great gesture
      If it was t for my kids ( they were super excited- they were patiently waiting for daddy to come back so we can eat the cake) I would get rid of that cake in no time
      Daddy Arrived around 6 pm all beaming with joy and happiness hearing praises etc

      And I was heartbroken… swallowing my tears, surrounded by his family and not even able to cry out loud

      Horrible bday

  • Well whaddoyouknow, my birthday is just one after Chump Lady’s! It certainly helps as I just turned 39 and have anxiety about never being ever able to settle with a decent person. Thanks Chump Lady!

  • Happy birthday CL!!! And a huge THANK YOU for all that you do. I am doing all I can to change the narrative, move the needle. When a friend told me recently that a mutual friend cheating on his wife was “a symptom” of problems in the marriage, I went off…she called me later and apologized :-).

    Anyway, my 56th birthday was Friday. My 50th was spent alone, doing nothing, my then husband was working in another city, likely out celebrating with the OW I realize now. This year, 1 year past D-Day, 5 months past divorce, I have gone no contact but some flowers showed up from my X – full of the flowers (Stargazer Lilies) that of course he forgot I’m allergic to, after 17 years together! I mean, I can’t even be in the same room with those suckers, my throat closes up and I get a pounding headache. Classic. I gave them away to the old folks home.

    • Ah yes, saying it with flowers.

      My gxh gave me an antique Japanese bucket filled with crysanthemums one year for Mother’s Day.

      Sounds great, right? Except I had made it clear a few days earlier I deeply dislike everything about crysanthemums. And he collected antiques, not me.

      So yes, the language of flowers.

      I still don’t get why a cheap, acrid smelling, weed-like plant is synonomous with Mother’s Day in this country. Oh wait …

      (My internet is on the fritz today so sorry if this posts more than once)

  • Wishing you a wonderful birthday Tracy. I have been around here for a few years and this site, your brainchild, has been a wonderful oasis of enlightenment and sanity from from the get-go. Thank you for all that you do and have done for chump nation. You are appreciated douch.

  • We were on the way to airport to visit our son on my 60th birthday early in September -married 36 years. He starts driving wildly in parking garage, surely he must have to go to toilet, no just want to get parked. We hurry to airport elevator & in comes his young employee to tell me he has been cheating with her & another. He says just her. We go on trip, gf trashed office. Took me until January to file. Final a couple of months ago. My recent 63rd birthday was with authentic loved ones. My daughter tells me that 60th will turn out to be the best bc I began living in the truth that day. IDK about that but LACGAL inspired me to be brave, as did my children.

  • Happy Birthday, CL!

    Each chump is different based on who they are, how long the marriage or relationship was, whether it was a good relationship or not, and what future goals one may envision forward.

    In my case, it was a long marriage complete with wonderful children. The fact that it ended due to infidelity and agregious acts by the cheater in no way diminishes MY appreciation for the life I lived,
    person I was, and satisfaction with my commitment, loyalty and joys of marriage and family.

    Now on the other side, I thought long and hard about the future. All my life I’ve been in a role that never quite defined “me” as an individual person. This is NOW THE TIME to discover unique, individual, wonderful YOU! All along you’ve first been someone’s child, a daughter, sibling, student,
    employee, girlfriend, friend to others, wife, mother, in-law, helpmate, etc., etc., etc.

    Now it’s time to define yourself apart from the past. Who have you become as the sum total of your many past experiences? Who are YOU at the core of your individual self? Are you an adventurer, artist, performing artist, voracious reader, seeker of spiritual growth, people-person, creative and curious, nature lover, hands-on builder of things, free-spirited – you fill in the blanks. Or, are you more reticent, quiet natured, thoughtful and contemplative, enjoy alone time, interests don’t involve others, and confident steering your own rudder forward?

    Either way, this time is a valuable opportunity to give yourself. A time to reflect, refine and redefine who you are. A time to finally be free of the many definitions others may have imposed upon you and to get to know yourself in ways you have never had the opportunity to. Keep the best parts of you; let the least fall by the wayside. Make the most of the time you have for and with yourself now – you may even decide you like life so well just who and the way you are.

    This is when opportunity comes unexpectedly knocking. This is the time where you can take it or leave it. This is the time when you are healed and Tuesday has come. Best wishes!

  • My cheater and I share the same birthday. While she is stuck with the beer belly arrogant loudmouth, I’ll be free to come and go as a please. Thank Goodness I found the book and this site before playing pick me any longer. 52nd birthday will be my best.

  • Happy belated Birthday wishes to you, Tracy!

    The weather couldn’t have been more perfect to celebrate pretty much anything and to do it at Hillwood Gardens – wow.

  • Happy Birthday Tracy! Noone cuts through the bullshit quite like you. Your ability to pare ambiguous behaviour down to its core moral essence and parse the word-salad of entitlement is an unparalleled gift to us all. So many of us have you to thank for teaching us how to see clearly and stand up for ourselves. I’m glad you’ve had another happy trip around the sun and that you chose to use your unique talents to help the world with this site. You’re a life-saver.

  • Happy Birthday!!
    My D day was forty years ago and I still carry scars…
    But I just turned 66 and a few weeks ago a much younger colleague said to me over a business lunch “I hope I’m in as good of shape as you when I’m 66.”
    I was genuinely flattered . I don’t work out , I consider myself to be slightly overweight (185) and am 5’9+”. But my health is good and my wife of 38 years . I stay active (I’m a borderline workaholic , but still find time to do things with the Missus and we both feel truly blessed.)

    Life beyond a holocaust can be exceptionally super fantastic.

  • Happy birthday, Tracy!

    I turned 48 on Friday. It was a hard one. Focusing on what I have, in terms of relationships, feels like forcing myself to focus on being grateful for my few healthy swiss chard plants in my patch of dirt when I am so aware of wanting a garden full of my favorite kind of flowers and veggies. Except that I don’t even know what my favorites are. I am grateful for my swiss chard people.

    In a counterintuitive way, it was a great birthday because inner ‘me’ / inner child Magnolia was very present. It is a challenge to live with and support an inner me so full of rage and sadness and hopelessness, but at least this year she didn’t get squashed down because my birthday is supposed to be “happy.” One of my big gifts to myself was welcoming the person who feels rage/sadness/defeat to be heard and celebrated. Yay, that that person is still alive and is so brave! My gift was spending time with her and learning more about her. What a strange new feeling.

    I guess this is what I’ve been looking for from men I’ve partnered with. What grief to really feel how much loneliness and fear and outcastedness I’ve been hoping someone will come along and heal. But what a sense of genuine agency, to begin to welcome myself, to have a place inside me that welcomes rather than that looks for a home.

    Lots of love to CL and CN!

  • My 46th birthday was this past January. My FW had moved out on NY after having an affair and given us covid. I had my kids that weekend and took my son to ski lessons. I was getting my four year old daughter dressed to go skiing and she was in a terrible mood. I slugged it out and drove them around afterward in the warm truck to get them to sleep. I was crying and writing them goodbye letters as I drove and they slept pretty sure that I couldn’t do this anymore. Twenty one years earlier my sister had been tragically killed in a car accident on my birthday and I knew this pain. It was as close as I have been to suicide but I reached out and talked to my inner circle. I kept going and felt that pain and loneliness. I feel a lot stronger now and a lot has changed. I am not sure what this next one will be like but I’m grateful that I will be here to celebrate it.

  • Happy late birthday, CL!

    Thank you for your snark and your ability to put things bluntly. Thank you for trying to stop the RIC from victim-blaming the chumped. Your book was the cold wake up call I needed to push me to develop a plan and start taking action so I can escape the misery of marriage to a FW. Seeing the members of CN who have made their way through encourages me that I will thrive, too.

    I don’t remember my 40th birthday being anything special. On my 39th, I was at an oceanfront restaurant in Honolulu I had long wanted to try. I went to the ladies room and, when I returned, I saw klootzak from across the restaurant, texting on his phone with a big smile on his face. My gut, my “second brain,” knew he was texting an OW. We were still in counseling at the time and nothing had changed with him. I sneaked up on him and sat down. “What were you just looking at? You sure had a big smile.” Klootzak: “It was just someone at work that needed something.” Ruined my dinner.

    I have resolved that when I get to the other side of divorce, I will pay for some catering and have a good sized shindig at my house. After that, maybe I will visit some of my friends across the country I have been meaning to see. But every birthday – every DAY – I will be living a full life, an authentic life that I will enjoy thoroughly. And all because LACGAL was the boot up my ass I needed to start to propel myself forward.

    Happiest of birthdays and thank you for all you do!

  • Happy Birthday CL! Hope you enjoyed the orchids.
    Thank you for all you do – I still love reading your brilliant articles a few years after leaving my cheater and gaining a life, because they are such a good reminder of boundaries and self-respect. They saved me from a lot of turmoil at the time too, and gave me a lot of needed hope. Thank you and happy birthday Xxx

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