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little girls cry

One of the lingering effects of my divorce is social isolation. My married friends all faded away after Voldemort moved out, I don’t have outside employment, and we moved out of the neighborhood we’d lived in for 13 years. I signed up for Meetup.com to expand my horizons, but found that quite a few of the meetups were either for young moms or poorly disguised attempts to sell stuff.

I’ve made a lot of acquaintances through the college classes I’ve taken, but they’re “in the moment” kinds of relationships.

I finally signed up for the Chumplady.com forums and found a SoCal group. I was excited and a little hesitant to go to the planned lunch meeting this weekend, but I’m so glad I did. There were eight of us on the outdoor patio of a restaurant in Old Town (exactly what it sounds like, a part of San Diego devoted to making money from the city’s history, which is mainly Wild West cowboys and Spanish missionaries). Seven women and one man, all chumped by our cheating spouses. We ate, drank, and talked for more than five hours. It was awesome, fun, and educational.

First, I learned that having a cheater spouse really, really isn’t the chump’s fault. Every single one of us at that table was smart, funny, kind, and attractive. No one drove their poor, misunderstood spouse to adultery. I knew this intellectually, but seeing other people in the same boat, I finally accepted this truth into my bones.

I also learned that in so many ways, cheaters follow a playbook. There are habits and characteristics they pretty much all have in common. The lies they tell are similar, the excuses follow predictable lines, they really don’t have much imagination.

The imagination seems to come in with their selection of affair partners. One absolutely beautiful woman’s ex-husband had his last affair with a granny porn star. (I was captivated by this story. Granny porn is a thing? Yep. As best we can figure it’s porn starring women over 40. Uh-huh. In the porn industry over 40 = granny.) Best part? The stunningly pretty woman who spent 15 years with this cheater was laughing the whole time she told her story.

The pain was finite.

Sharing our divorce experiences was eye-opening. I now understand why my lawyer said I got the best divorce settlement she’s ever seen. I thought she was full of crap, but I don’t have to share custody with a man who shtupped our kids’ babysitter. I didn’t have to move out of the family home so a string of random women could move in. I really am very lucky in many ways, but especially custody. It’s been super easy to go no contact with Voldemort since he pretty much just disappeared. I’ve embraced my gratitude about that. It sucked for a long time, but everything is so much better now.

It was a gift to spend time with people who get it. They understand not wanting to date for now or maybe at all. There’s no surprise at the insistence to never re-marry. Those who are dating are doing so with eyes wide open and sense of humor intact.

I hope to see some of the local chumps again in smaller settings and become better friends. It was a relief to be able to let the scars and warts show — and laugh about it all.

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