A little over a year ago this was published on HuffPost. It was the first time I really put anything personal on the internet, and it was a whirlwind. I mean I went big I suppose, writing about a very controversial topic and publishing it for the world to see. I knew in advance I was asking for a beating, and boy did I get it.
Let’s be clear. I had an affair. I hurt people I loved in doing so. And then I wrote about it and said I wouldn’t take it back if I were given the chance. And I gave my article a very sensational title. And then I shared it on one of the most well-known sites out there. There was no way that I wasn’t going to be HATED. I was prepared for it. As I read each and every one of the comments on that page, Tyler and a couple other close friends told me I was crazy. But I wanted to know what was being said because I thought it was possible I’d get some good out of it. I was right.
I went back to take a look at those comments as I started to write this, but they are nowhere to be found. Obviously the original piece is still there, but none of the craziness that indued after it was published is. It’s probably better that way, but that means you can’t see exactly what I’m talking about here. You’ll just have to trust me.
Anyway, I learned three pretty valuable lessons from these comments.
Lesson 1: I need to be more clear, concise and pointed with the topics I choose to write about and the words I use to discuss them.
Reading through the comments I realized that what I thought I had been communicating really hadn’t come through the way I intended. So many times I just wanted to yell at my computer, “Yes, that’s what I’m saying!!” For instance one of the comments read, “If you had to have an affair then you had no business being married in the first place.” Well, duh. That’s what I was saying. At least I thought it was.
Of course there are going to be people who, for whatever legitimate reasons of their own, will never understand what I was trying to say regardless of how well I put it into words. But I have to believe that some of those comments wouldn’t have been made had I done a better job at using my words to get my point across.
Lesson 2: What others think about you does not define you.
The experience of having the affair and it’s aftermath toughened me up quite a bit. Like I said, for the first time in my life I wasn’t the “good girl,” and there was nothing I could do to change it. So I had to become okay being less than perfect in the eyes of others.
Those comments helped me take that a step further. The horrible, hateful things that were said to me and about me were just one person’s (well more like 200 persons’) opinion. But fuck that. I know I’m not a horrible human being. I know I don’t deserve to be spit on in the street or murdered in my sleep (the things people say when they have the internet to hide behind…!!). I know I’m a better woman for having gone through this. Watching people call me a monster and knowing for a fact that I’m not, put things into a perspective I’d never considered before.
Sometimes, other people just don’t know what they are talking about. And that’s okay.
Lesson 3: Most importantly, I learned that I’m not nearly as “weird” as I once thought.
I was expecting the outpouring of meanness. I was not expecting the outpouring of support from people I don’t know and have never met. Nor was I expecting to hear from so many people in my own life who wanted to tell me that they had been through something similar. I was certainly not expecting any of these people to THANK me for putting myself out there.
Of course there are going to be people who can’t relate to what I have to say. And of course there are going those who judge me for what I do. And OF COURSE those people are going to be more vocal about their opinions than the others. Whatever. that’s their prerogative. But on the flip side there are so many whose beliefs and experiences are similar to mine but who are simply not comfortable sharing them.
I’m lucky enough that I have the ability to put my thoughts out into the world without fear that that world will come crumbling down around me. That is why I started this blog. That is why I’m so insistent upon being honest in this space, even when it’s difficult. None of us weirdos are alone in this world, after all.
So I suppose I should say “Thanks!” to all of the HuffPost commenters whose words, kind or not, helped fuel some of the accomplishments I’m most proud of from the past year.