One of the questions I’ve been asked several times since starting this blog is ‘why discuss this so publicly?’.
It’s a fair question. Whilst I’m very open and honest (ask me a straight question about my personal life, I’ll usually give an straight answer) I’m actually quite a private person. I’m on Facebook a lot, but if you look at my status updates, they’ll generally be light hearted – about the kids or recounting day to day stuff – there’s very little there about what I’m feeling or going through personally. This isn’t because I want to present an ‘image’ to the world, but because I just want to keep part of myself to myself.
So, I really did think very long and hard before putting what had happened with E into a public blog (although, given that less than 100 people are currently reading this, I’m not sure ‘public’ is the right term). Before I started I spoke to my kids and to E’s sister and her partner and told them what I was planning. I’m very aware that they might read it (I understand that Oldest Daughter and her friends read it regularly). I’ve tried to ensure that everything I write about E is factually correct (and, where needed, can be backed up, with printed evidence – I’d hate for accusations of libel to be chucked around), and that, apart from the odd wry comment born of 25 years of living with someone, I’m not horrible about or mean spirited towards him. The facts, I think, speak for themselves.
So why blog about something so personal?
Firstly, I think, because it’s good therapy. I’ve always written when I’m under stress, Writing has been my way of ordering my thoughts and finding my way through things, of imposing order upon chaos for most of my life. It’s one of the reasons that I always have a To Do list pinned to the wall – taking things out of my head and writing them down clears my mind. Writing about what has happened has helped, is helping, me to make sense of it. At the time there was so much going on and I was so busy dealing with the maelstrom of emotions that the kids and I were feeling, that I couldn’t have pulled a cogent thought out of my head. Now, however, over a year on, I feel like we’ve come through a storm – there’s still going to be a lot to deal with (and there’s still a lot to tell), but I feel like I have the space to work through what happened.
But why publicly? True – I could have done what I often do and written everything down, diary-style, just for me. But I began to feel very strongly that doing that was sort of hiding what I’d been through and being complicit with E’s imposition of silence upon me. He refused to talk about anything, as if ignoring it would make it go away. I didn’t want to go away. What E did; lying about me to the women he was seeing and refusing to to talk to me about anything that had happened, robbed me of my voice. I’d been silenced, made voiceless, in so many ways. E had said so many things about me and our life to complete strangers. But once confronted he’d refused to talk about it. After he left he still refused to even explain why he’d done what he’d done- whilst all the time (presumably) telling the same stories about me/our life to P. I wanted my voice back. I wanted to reply.
The other thing was that, at the time, I’d felt ashamed of and humiliated by what had happened. All the emotions I’d felt were so confusing and so overwhelmingly all-consuming and I spent months trying to reign in how what I was feeling and stop it affecting my behaviour in front of other people so that I’d appear ok. With hindsight (whilst I’m not suggesting for one minute that people going through a break up sob their way through life to the detriment of everything else) I thought it was important to be open about my feelings and my reactions to them because it’s ok to not be ok. I put so much pressure on myself to pretend that I was ok, that I stacked up a whole lot of other problems for myself in the future. If just one person reads my blog and thinks ‘that’s me, I felt like that too, it’s ok to feel like that.’ then it’s kind of done its job.
Finally, and this might sound (and probably is) naively altruistic, but I really wanted something positive to come out of my experience. When E left I googled services/charities to help people in my situation and there was nothing. There were just Marriage Guidance type services. The only things out there seemed to be dedicated to trying to get me back into a relationship that I was far better out of. I wanted to open a space for anyone (men, women, children, parents, partners, grandparents) who had been affected by infidelity, betrayal, or any nasty break-up could come to – a place where they could turn to for unconditional support and friendship. That’s why this blog has a Facebook page and a twitter feed. In my head, it will maybe one day have a website with message boards and links to places people can go to for support and counselling – a sort of MumsNet for people affected by infidelity (LifeWithoutExNet) maybe even an App (how do you make an App?).
I know a lot of people might think a blog like this is self-indulgent and over-sharing (in which case I’d say – ‘don’t read it then’), but, hopefully it’s a bit more than that.