I have written and deleted without posting about 57 tweets and FB statuses in response to the Ashley Madison situation. I clearly have something to say, but feel like I need to be really, really careful in saying it. Not so much in regard to my own situation, but thinking about those of you sitting in silence right now, potentially reading this and feeling literally and figuratively frozen. You searched the list or a browser history and confirmed the dark, nagging suspicion sitting under your heart. I know.
And warning, there is going to be a judgey undertone to this post. I feel VERY judgey about this topic and am 100% ok with that.
I hear the loud noise about privacy and user data; yes, in general, hacking is not cool. I work at a giant tech company whose utmost priority is privacy and the security of user data. I hear this, I live this, I work for this. That’s a different topic that will continue to be a central focus whether the data is tax information, credit cards or extra-marital affairs. I have colleagues working 24/7 on this, so no worries, that’ll still be out there when all of this dust settles.
I, personally, am having a hard time getting past the tagline of Ashley Madison: “Life is short. Have an affair.” Why not “Life is short, climb a mountain. Life is short, take care of your heart and your spouse’s. Life is short, cure fucking cancer. Life is short, fight for human rights and clean water.” I am very sorry, but life is NOT too short for an affair– in fact it’s the very opposite. We get one shot on this planet with the gift and miracle of love in partnership and it’s up to you to do something with that. You took vows, so on that day, you sort of thought this might be something you could get on board with, yes?
I also hear the noise of the edge case users– we’re in an open relationship, my spouse is chronically ill and we talked about it (uhh, not really cool in my book, but ok), we both do it, this spices up our lives. Ok, ok. If you are in a relationship where both parties really and truly feel comfortable and bought in to this and you approach it in a safe and loving manner, fine. Your life, your deal. We all know I am wildly open hearted to all types of lifestyles– as long as love is numero uno and everyone has a say, we’re all in. Great.
I have dug real deep over the last several months about what fidelity, vows, marriage and the sanctity of all of that means and while I understand my own boundaries and values and intend to live them out as I enter this next season of life… I am, on the whole, worried. I mean, we just make it so EASY to slip into something anonymous and distant. So EASY to seek comfort in a willing stranger. And don’t get me started on the smirking CEO in charge of this whole mess (who’s one of many, there are so MANY of these sites)– Mr. Biderman, are you married? Do you sleep well at night? Tell me, what are we teaching our children about commitment and hard work when it’s all just a click away from unraveling through secret, false intimacy? I know it’s not all his fault- adultery has existed forever and these sites are not fully to blame. I know, I know.
Being in a marital relationship is likely the hardest thing, along with parenting, that we do as humans. We are really just animals trapped in bodies topped with rational brains. Our physical urges get all caught up in these webs created by thought, emotion, and memory, coupled (pun intended) with another human’s unique and totally other web of stuff– and BOOM hard fucking work ensues to keep it all together. But that’s where the grace, beauty and light comes in. The hard work and the joy at it paying off. That’s why it’s called a sacrament. Interestingly, the word “sacrament” comes from the Latin sacred and solemn oath (straight forward enough) but also the Greek: mystery. The mystery is the magic- the still small voice, the third eye, the Holy Spirit. The “I don’t know exactly why you’re it, but you really are.” Sacrament.
Now. To the lovies who are sitting in a deep, dark hole of “holy shit I don’t know what to do”– my guess: the VAST majority, impact and fallout of this hack– let me just say some things. First, you are not alone. Second, this is NOT about you. This is about the brokenness of someone who hasn’t been able to get past some shit, buried somewhere and the internet made it super easy for them to act on it. Chances are, you know what that shit is, cause you married them, and this is how it’s oozing out. Repeat after me: this is not about you. Know that you do not have to do anything that doesn’t feel ok to you today. Or any of the days that now follow. You absolutely should go to a doctor to get checked out. But otherwise, you can sit with this. You can tell no one. You can tell everyone. You can make the decision that feels right today: scream from the rooftops or just wait a bit. You are now in survival-land and all things are ok. If you are not ready to publicly scream, I do suggest talking to SOMEone who makes you feel safe and protected. Cause that’s the thing, you feel wildly unsafe right now. So, a counselor, a pastor, a true friend. Me.
Also, divorce is not everyone’s answer. Only you will know, with time, what feels right.
I feel like (the universal) We are at a critical moment where We need to stop the incessant spinning for a minute and breathe deeply. Take a moment (or several) to get right with whatever God (mountains, Mother Earth, Buddha, Jesus) speaks to you. Find the still small voice. Notice your baby’s eyelashes. Really, deeply kiss your partner. Feel the earth under your feet. Talk openly to the person you took those vows with. You promised to love them. You promised to honor them. So do it. Do it today.