Pots, Kettles and Strangers on the Internet

You'd think by now I'd know better. When I see little bursts of traffic coming to my blog from certain sites, you'd think I would have learned to just leave it alone. The last time I snooped on one of these mystery sources it turned out to be a weird culty website full of fapping basement dwellers who had made a bunch of hysterical memes using my headshot from HuffPost. They were all in a tizzy because I wrote about one of my kid's brushes with Amway and were having a field day on their cuckoo little internet hangout (which, by the way, was done in neon purple letters on a black background; it hurt my old hag eyes reading all of those insults).

But I don't know better. Apparently I'm one of those slow-learner types. Because when I happened to see my blog traffic spiking like crazy one day and noticed that it was coming from one of my favorite fellow blogger's sites, Chump Lady, I was all "oooh let me go take a look-see and find out what's cooking!" 

Chump Lady has been several things to me over the past few years: an inspiration, a source of comfort, a guaranteed laugh when I needed it most, and a huge supporter of my writing. She's recommended my stuff several times and I'm always happy to recommend her work to people. Always.

So when I discovered that the swarms of clicks were coming from a pretty hateful little thread in one of her comment sections, I was taken aback. Literally: I think my head did one of those cartoon jerk-back movements.

I'm not going to post a link to the exact post because dammit I do have some pride. But I will disclose what it was about: one of Chump Lady's readers apparently read my blog upon her recommendation. And this particular reader declared something like this:

I liked Happy Hausfrau until I came upon this post (cue my first SAY WHAT?):  she then linked to something I wrote a long time ago about one of the fellas in my life. It was about the one named Andy, the man I had a short but intense relationship with before I ended up married to Big Daddy.

This Chump reader decided that I was a hypocrite. She and another reader then went to town, calling me lots of fun names and basically saying that what went down during that summer put me on the same level as my ex. And all the other exes they discuss on Chump Lady's site.

One guy in particular seemed very upset with me. It appeared as though he kept coming back here, reading more and then going back to deposit little vitriolic comments about my character. At one point he described me as a "steaming pile of shit". That's a new one for me, by the way.

At first I was defensive and hurt and considered chiming in with a "Hey! You're WRONG! I'm NOTHING like those other people!"

But then I read the Andy post with different eyes. And I could see where someone might come to the conclusion that yes, yes indeed I was one of them. I was a rationalizing asshole who cheated on a loved one.

Except, no. I wasn't.

If anybody understands what it's like to see things with an angry, jaundiced eye, it's me. I still, to this day, can't read anything or watch anything about affairs and mistresses and cliched stories about "I love you, but I'm not in love with you anymore" type divorces without interjecting my own hurts and sadness into it. I GET IT. Being figuratively shat upon by someone you loved and trusted turns your rose-colored glasses into a more brownish hue.

But, what I did 25 years ago in that sweaty Uptown apartment doesn't even come close to what my ex-husband, and countless other exes, have done. Was it honorable? Decent? Fair? Probably not.

Did it break up a marriage?
Did it ruin one person financially, emotionally and spiritually?
Did it take four innocent children's lives and play a game of Yahtzee with them?

Nope. It was a flighty 24 year old in an off-and-on-again relationship (during one of those "off" times) falling for someone else.

There were no vows.
There were no kids.
There was nobody living together. Cripes, there wasn't even anyone DATING at the time it all went down.

In the Andy post I did do some musing about whether or not what I did could be construed as cheating, and at one point I believe I surmised that yes, I guess it could. I came to that declaration because I had been dating Big Daddy for a while prior to what happened that summer and he was still carrying a pretty big torch for me when all of this went down.

What I didn't write about in that post was the fact that Big Daddy knew about Andy. He and I had discussed the state of our relationship and dating other people and at one point I just flat-out told him. Not only told him I was seeing someone else, I told him the guy's name. They met, at my apartment one night. Big Daddy would sometimes drop in because this was before cell phones and internet and there was no way to shoot someone a little text giving them a heads up (although some of my friends still do that terrifying ambush "pop in" and there is so much awkwardness).

He did one of his drop ins one night, and as we were standing at the front door of my apartment, Andy showed up. He showed up because we were going out that night. If I remember correctly, they introduced themselves to each other, Big Daddy gave me a wan and kind of heartbreaking smile and said "Have fun" and then left. and now I'm wondering if this is weird, the fact that I can recall almost every single detail of that evening and yet cannot remember to pay my freaking utilities bill.

When you write online, and especially when you write about your personal life, there are always going to be critics. There will be trolls who troll and lurkers who lurk and really cool people who relate. What there is never going to be, is 100% transparency. Nobody is ever going to know everything. Sweet Jesus, even I can't remember squat and I'm the one who lived it.

What really sucks, though, is that you are going to be judged and sometimes, sentenced, by strangers who think they know it all. You might get your face photoshopped onto a picture of a porn actress doing her thing (yeah, that was the basement dwellers) or you might have some oddly angry guy on a divorce blog compare you to a fresh pile of feces.

If you have feelings, some of it will bother you.

If you have a brain, you will understand that none of it really matters.

It makes me happy that both of those thing apply to me in this case. I'm not a saint, not by any stretch of anyone's imagination. But I'm not a Big Daddy. And I never will be.

Before I close, I have to give my girl Chump Lady a shout out. She's awesome and I know her readers are fiercely loyal. This in no way diminishes my opinion or feelings about her, her (mostly) awesome fans and her oh-so-helpful blog and books. Please check her out if you haven't already. But if you happen to see someone referring to me as a poop head, do me a solid and let it pass.


  1. I am so sorry! I don't much moderate my site unless it's being trolled. By all means post a link to this blog post. Do not let one comment from someone who doesn't know you get you down. I'm a huge fan of your work.

    FWIW, before I was chumped, I was a HUGE IDIOT about boundaries and relationships. HUGE. And the reason I wrote CL is because I learned everything the hard way. By doing every stupid grief stricken, chumpy thing. (Learn from me, don't be an idiot! is essentially my message.)

    I've posted about this, but I get into hot water when I start defining infidelity. My take away is , if it's your relationship, and it's a deal breaker for you (porn, emotional affairs, fucking escorts, whatever) then it's a deal breaker. You don't need my definition. The point is to know what YOUR boundaries are.

    That said, there is a big difference in scale between offenses, IMO. (And again, I get in trouble here with my readers.) Porn? Not cheating. Emotional affair? Harmful, disrespectful, is probably a prelude to a physical affair but it is NOT paternity testing your children. It's not an STD. It's NOT physically crossing into the affair space. To me, the distinction matters. It might not to someone else.

    Hell, dating while legally separated (something I have done) IMO is not cheating. Some people think it is. I think if you're not eating cake, you're fine. Why waste another second on a bad relationship if you don't have to?

    All you can do in relationships is LEARN from them. And that's what distinguishes people with character. Serial cheaters, the Baddie, do not self reflect. They don't grow. They don't empathize. And that's why they're monsters.

    You're not a monster. Don't take shit. I'm sorry it came from my site.

    1. I have nothing but love and admiration for you, Tracy! I love what you said about learning from relationships. THAT IS SO TRUE. Every single one of them teaches us something. Whether it's how to treat others differently or how it feels to be treated a certain way, it's so wise to look at these as learning experiences.

      That said, I should basically have my doctorate in relationships by now. LOL.

      Thank you for being you. You are so appreciated and such a huge help to more people than you will ever know. xoxo

  2. I am a loyal follower of CL. A card carrying member of the nation since 2013. I read the post you're talking about which was very harsh, I agree. I am admittedly one of those folks that lets curiosity get the best of me so I had to come check your blog out for myself. I love it BTW.

    Even though our situations are extremely different in that I was lucky enough to have adult children when my marriage blew up, I feel like we could be twins separated at birth (and by at least 1,000 miles).

    Anyway, in the end I think Tracy's recommendation will bring you some more loyal readers. FWIW I don't think your situation comes anywhere near close to what big daddy or the cheater ex's of all the chumps on CLs website.

    1. Oh anonymous, thank you for this. You have no idea how much it means to me.

  3. Love and follow Chump Lady. Love and follow Happy Hausfrau. Love that different people have different opinions. Some of those opinions are shitty. Hold your nose and step over them, all of us roses are on the other side........Keep it up Jenny, you are loved.

    1. I swear, each one of your "you are loved" comments feels like a big warm hug. I don't know who you are but you are awesome.

      Thank you ♥

  4. ((hugs)) Mama! People can be such douchewads when hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. :(

    I read your Andy post ages ago, and did NOT take away that it was anything, at all, like what I experienced as the victim of a cheating husband. Good grief.

    With that said, I can understand how people who are angry (for good reason) and grieving lash out... but I can't dismiss or condone it. :( I'm so very sorry that happened. It sucks.

    Thanks for the reminder that there's always a human being on the other end of the wires.
    And for the shout out to Chump Lady's blog. Three years post-divorce, I'm past the need to be angry, but I have a friend going through some pretty crappy stuff right now, and CL is just what the doctor ordered.

    ((hugs)) may all your comments be loving, and may the basement dwellers run out of cheetos! :-/

    1. Oh Mary thank you so much. For all of these hugs and nice words! And yes YES hell yes about Chump Lady. She's so fabulous.

      Here's to a Cheeto shortage, ha!

      Thank you!

  5. Well.. since I know you personally.. and I support you 110%.. and I know how Big Daddy destroyed you and 4 innocent kids.. and how much work you did to pull yourself up and be the safe place for your kids.. I think you should send me any links where they need the real story.. Gawd.. some people have too much time on their hands.. and are probably majorly sad people in real life! Love ya!

    1. Oh thanks Kel!! I appreciate your support and friendship so much.

      Love you right back.

  6. Jenny,
    I also had the typical on/off teenage steady boyfriend relationship for a few years as a teenager (later married that boyfriend) when I made a bad choice with another that wasn't my boyfriend. It was extremely brief. I never told anyone. I knew when I married that I would never make that choice again and would always be faithful.... and I kept to that. My husband did not. He had an affair 20plus years into our marriage. I forgave. I think because I knew what a bad choice feels like and didn't want a divorce. In an effort to make him not feel more horrible than he already seemed to feel... I disclosed my teenage, way before marriage blunder. What happened? I was divorced because of it. I thought the same as you... pre marriage, no children, mortgage. I was about 17-18 and lived at home with my parents still. I've been reminded of it on a daily basis now. I knew, even back then, that that experience taught me a great lesson of knowing I would always be faithful in my marriage because of the horrible way I felt back then that it happened at all. Life does teach lessons.... sometimes just too late.

    1. NO!!! You cannot blame your divorce on something you did as a CHILD. For real! Please don't let his asshattery become yours.

      I believe, strongly, that we do learn from every relationship. But I don't want you to think, not for one freaking second, that something you did as a teenager is the reason your marriage failed. And what a piece of crap to make you think that. I'm sorry :(

      Hugs to you, anonymous.

  7. Another note to my previous post....The ex that divorced me married his affair partner. I am a single mom, raising our children alone. And.... I'm afraid to date. Haven't dated in many years. I'm 50 now and my choice at 17 (unmarried with no children) still haunts me and somehow turned out bigger than my exes.

    1. He's just blameshifting, Anonymous. Seriously, it has fuck all to do with who you were at 17. You were 17! You didn't even have a fully developed BRAIN. He was a grown-ass man. He just used your compassion against you. Please don't internalize his mindfuckery.

    2. Ha! I wrote my above reply before reading this one. Ditto everything Tracy said here.

      And girl, dating at our age is TERRIFYING. There are no hard and fast rules about getting back into it. You go at your own pace. I've done it all: online, being set up by friends, actually dating men I'm friends with. None of it is perfect or easy but there really are some fun guys out there. Nobody says it has to be a huge romance thing. It can be for a little nookie, a little companionship. Or if you want it to be all traditional and courting-like, it can be that too.

      That's the cool thing dating all over again: we know more this time around. We've matured and grown and the good news is, so have some of the guys you'll meet. I'm very happy right now and my wish is for you to get there too, my friend.


    3. It's ironic that the hypocrite married his mistress who will most likely eventually cheat on him (and him on her) after leaving you for cheating at 17.

      Hopefully someday you will be able to get over the guilt you feel for what you did. He's too blame for the divorce not you (I'm convinced that he wanted out of the marriage and used your teenage mistake as an excuse) and is in no position to hold what you did against you because what he did was 100 times worse. You were underage, not married and childless when you cheated, he was not.

  8. I love Chump Lady (Hi, Tracy)! My mom always said nobody wants to see their entire life up on a movie screen, and your hateful admirers are no different.

    If you weren't married. You weren't living together. You weren't dating. Frankly, I would be surprised if your ex-husband wasn't doing the same thing. Because you weren't married. You weren't living together. You weren't dating.

    1. You know what's funny, Joan, is this reminded me of something my ex did while we were dating. A few months into our "courtship" he called me and said he wanted to take a break because there was a girl at work he was interested in. FORESHADOW, MUCH? LOL.

      Oh hindsight.

      Thanks for reading and for your kind words :)

  9. Tracy,
    Thanks for the reply to my post. Deep down, I know you're correct. I spent 6 years in the 'no contact' (per Eddie Corbano blog) mode which worked wonderfully for me. The minute I stopped it, I was right back being the blame shifting target. That's when I refer back to my favorite blogs for support and to get back into the zone. Those blogs being The Happy Hausfrau and Chump Lady. Both are great therapy. Thanks for keeping the blogs going !!

    1. No contact is the only way to go for some of us. Thank you so much for reading both of our blogs. I'm so glad to have been a little bit of help to you.

  10. If you were perfect you'd be president! Oh, wait...

    Ha F' them!

  11. Wow Jenny. Not only do I second every single thing everyone else has already said in support of you, but...what those loser trolls said to and about you speaks VOLUMES about their utter lack of worth as people. I'm not much of a gamblin' woman, but I'd put some serious money on this: the meanest, shittiest, trolliest of them who said the worst things to you have cheated on their women, and are too cowardly to deal with the consequences. So, like Tracy said, they're blame-shifting -- like Anonymous's ex. Either that or the only girl who would ever give them any is Rosie Palms. Anyhoo...of course it stings to read this kind of crap directed at you. But I am so glad that by now you're secure enough to realize it doesn't really matter, and those sorry excuses for people don't matter either. Oh, and they're incredibly stupid too if they think that your relationship with Andy equals what your ex did to you. Excuse me, you said CLEARLY in the Andy post that you and BD had broken up, at least temporarily. So then how, exactly, were you cheating when you guys WEREN'T DATING THEN?? OMG. Anyone who would equate that is either terminally, epically stupid...or like I said, has a very guilty conscience at some level. Keep on doing what you do -- you are very much loved by many of us!!

  12. I bet you end up with even more readers!


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