I had an amazing day on Saturday. I spent it traveling to and hanging out in Washington D.C. at The National Press Club. A longtime friend was kind enough to accompany me to Chumpalooza, otherwise known as Chump Lady’s book launch party for Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life. It. Was. Awesome! I got to meet Chump Lady herself, aka the fabulous Tracy Schorn, and some other fellow chumps that frequently post over on her site. She provided all the refreshments and let me tell you, it was a feast! They had shrimp skewers and beef skewers and chicken skewers (anyone sensing a theme?). There were pot stickers and dips and various chip type items. All very tasty. Plus there was beer and wine. I started off with a simple diet Coke but decided to try a little bit of red wine. It turned out to be delicious so I had an even bigger glass. There was a unicorn piñata that a few people hit with a stick. It was broken before I had a chance to whack it but that’s ok. I still got candy from it. I got my book signed and had my picture taken with her later that evening. My friend and I stayed for dinner at The Fourth Estate along with about twenty other people. Amazing food and such a great bunch of people. Seriously- I met some wonderful people. At dinner Tracy asked us if we would go around the table and say where we were from and maybe tell her a little about our stories. Some of those people really traveled! There were people from Texas, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and Canada. And of course plenty from the D.C. area. Those are the ones I know about! The stories may have been sad, sometimes shocking and/or heartbreaking, but there was plenty of laughter at the table.
I know Chump Lady sometimes gets a bad rap because she’s pretty hardline about what she believes. I want to go on record as saying she is absolutely lovely in person. Despite the potty mouth (which I love) and her no nonsense attitude she was humbled and amazed at all the people who showed up for her book launch. She was truly touched. She gave a speech, telling us how Chump Lady came into being, and she choked up several times as she gave that speech. You can read the speech in its entirety here. Her book launch took place ten years, almost to the day, that she married a cheater. Six months later she was a weeping mess. It was fitting that the book launch took place in D.C.
I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that she, too, was chumped, and she’s not just speaking as some know-it-all busybody. She’s been there herself and as she explained she began her website as a brain dump to tell everyone who would come after her what she had learned so they didn’t have to make the same mistakes.
I don’t want to gush over her too much (even though she’s awesome, amazing, fantastic, fabulous…..) but I will reveal what I wrote on the picture we gave to her: Thank you! You say what I think. She really does. I told someone at dinner that I knew all this shit back when I was younger. I knew cheating was wrong. I knew I had no desire to be friends with someone who cheated on me. I knew there was no excuse for it. As we make our way through life we are bombarded with messages telling us that we must look at ourselves and see where we share the blame, how affairs are symptoms of a sick marriage and not the actual disease, how we should all aspire to be friends with our exes and potentially their paramours as well, and how the OW/OM is not to blame. When you are alone in your thinking that all of that is bullshit advice you begin to doubt yourself. I thank God Tracy and her blog, Chump Lady, exist. She reaffirms that it’s NOT your problem. You DIDN’T cause this. There ISN’T an excuse for cheating. Cheating is not a symptom; it’s a sign that you have poor character and feel entitled to eat cake. And while the OW/OM is not your main problem (if not her/him then it would be someone else) she also tells you that anybody willing to get involved with someone who is married is not a nice person. Along with her voice are the voices of hundreds of other chumps, all telling you that you’re not crazy and this isn’t your fault. They all share their stories as well and you discover you are not alone. That feels wonderful!
To sum up Saturday was fantastic! There is something surreal to me about being in the nation’s capital. As we were leaving I noticed pictures of Supreme Court justices that had frequented the restaurant we were at. I looked on in amazement. Wow! Just wow! Thank you so much yet again to my good friend who came along with me for moral support. I probably wouldn’t have gone by myself and I’m very glad I went. I even had a good time riding the Metro and going underneath the freaking Potomac River! She impressed many of the chumps by her willingness to accompany me. Chump Lady is amazing; if any of you ever get a chance to meet her take it! She’s so pretty and very funny and personable. And if you’re reading this blog because you just found out you married a lying cheater order her book and hop on over to her blog (and please keep reading here, too!).