The truth: I physically cringed when I clicked Publish on my By Any Other Name post. As I sent that post to the public, I told Jim, “Crap. This time I’ve gone too far.” I’d already read him what I wrote before publishing, and he replied, “Not really. It could be worse.” But I was hesitant about that post because up until that point I hadn’t really attacked Carrie ad hominem. Usually I’d just lay out facts that didn’t put her or Mark in a flattering light because of the shit choices they made. In that post, however, I got catty.
My practice has mostly been to let the infidelity story itself do the damning, but then I decided to get spiteful, and, honestly, it wasn’t one of my finer moments.
While I do lay claim to a certain amount of intelligence, I don’t profess to have fantastic judgement. It’s like this: if I eat a bunch of chocolate cake I know I’ll regret it and end up repenting for a week. But I’m human. I want the cake. So I eat the cake. This was that. I knew I shouldn’t. But I wanted to. So I did.
I got attacked right back. It’s bound to happen from time to time. I’ve been [perhaps overly] feisty my whole life. This ain’t my first rodeo, and I do understand consequences.
On that blog post, some commenters with fake names went to town on me under the guise of caring for the innocent kids involved. (I’m not going to repost the comments here because they’re really damn long, but I strongly suggest you click over to read them. This post will make more sense that way.) And whatever. Really. Personally, I’ve been back and forth about my blog and its potential affect on the kids. Their mother made some horrible choices and I tell the world all about it. Dustin knows I write a blog. He’s not interested in reading it. I think Katelynn knows, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t care either. And the only way the two littles would know what’s on this space is if Thing One and Thing Two showed them.
When Jim and I began dating and I’d say something in conversation disparaging about Carrie, I’d stop and apologize, saying, “I’m sorry. She’s the mother of your children. I shouldn’t insult her.” His responses would go something like, “Rock on. She effed up your life.” He has never tried to decide for me what I should think and say.
When I started blogging about all this affair/divorce nonsense, Jim and I talked about if it was okay. Until he got a feel for what I was writing, before publishing I’d read to him the posts that had directly to do with him or his kids or his ex and get his buy-in. But it was never him “allowing” me to post things. It was a courtesy for me to show him. I wanted us to be on the same page. We are. And that means that sometimes we make mistakes together. It means that sometimes I make a mistake and need to apologize to him. Which I did when I realized that in posting the By Any Other Name post, I'd done a not-terrific thing. He said that when I read him the post he knew that it wasn’t a great idea for me to be malicious, but didn’t express any concerns, because, well, he wanted to eat the cake too.
Mark is crap. Everyone agrees about this. But there are times that I’m harder on Carrie because it pisses me off that she gets very little blame for her actions. People condemn Mark for the affair and subsequent splits. They say that Carrie was mentally sick, that she couldn’t be held totally responsible when Mark was so aggressive and persuasive. That’s more than I can handle. While, yeah, Mark screwed up, he is only directly responsible for leaving me. Carrie left more than a spouse; she left her kids. But because she is a weak personality people just let it go and blame everything on my ex. Her responsibilities were more significant than his, but she gets a pass, and it infuriates me.
(Hey Carrie, if you want your old life back, all you’ll have to do is “get help” and your entire previous world will open their arms up wide to take you in, because they feel bad that you got tricked by a serpent named Romo when you didn’t have the mental strength to resist. It’s right then that I will slip into a coma and die.)
As for Carrie being “drop dead gorgeous,” that’s a matter of opinion. The other night after I saw her at a church thing I told Jim that it does amazing things for my crummy self esteem to see his ex-wife. “It makes me feel super hot,” I said. Which is actually a good thing in my progress. When I was dealing with the fact that my husband was leaving me for another woman, I really struggled with the looks thing simply because Carrie and I couldn’t look more different. He went for my exact opposite.
And then there was the issue of size. I’ve got problems in my head when it comes to weight. I’m up front about that. I travel with a damn scale, for heaven’s sake. I’ve always seen skinny as superior. The skinnier the better. And Carrie’s a twig.
Listen, I’m little. Not many people are smaller. But my husband went and found, like, the only person who was smaller than me. Is there anything that could make me feel fatter? (For all I know Mark left me for a flat lower belly. I’ve never seen Carrie’s abdomen, but I know that my gut is capital-D disgusting.) So in Mark going for her, my head problems told me that I was gigantic and grotesque. Which rationally, I know isn’t true. However, this isn't a rational thing for me. Numbers-wise, I’m little—I tried on clothes yesterday and a 0P was too big—but in my messed up head, I’m elephantine. While I hate my body’s shape and will never give up my futile battle against it, the facts say that I’m anything but fat.
So it was a point of progress when I saw how skinny Carrie was the other night and was still able to say to Jim, “Damn, I’m hot.” There’s a mess of improvement combined with regression there. My therapist would be glad that I was able to see past thinness and would be terribly disappointed that I am still stuck giving a damn about Jim’s ex. I doubt that will ever wholly go away since I was married for ten years and my husband picked her over me. You think I can get past making comparisions? Maybe someday. But not yet.
One commenter said that my blogging isn’t the action of someone trying to get healthy after affair fallout, and my therapist would agree. I’m not totally healthy anyhow. Sometimes I am working really hard at getting healthy. But sometimes I get tired of it, trip over the high road, and end up lambasting Thing One and Thing Two beyond what I know is reasonable. Whoops. And it doesn’t make me happy. I know that. I write something that’s hateful and dangerous and post it and I know it’ll put me in a bad mood and make Them more of conversation than they merit. Yeah, I admit it’s not the actions of someone actively healing.
This last Sunday I curled up on Jim and cried into his shoulder. “I’m sorry your husband cheated and left you,” he said as he rubbed my back. I cried harder. No matter where I go or what I do or how I change, my history will always include the fact that I’m a girl who got left. There are instances where I choose to let that make me stronger. Other times I let it make me rotten.
I’m abrasive and often too honest. It'd be lunacy to think that everyone is gonna land on my side. There are crazies out there, and we can’t discount the validity of their opinions. I think that’d be discrimination.
I also got accused of narcissism, and that can’t be entirely wrong. Writing on a personal blog is its own form of being narcissistic. These are my thoughts, my life. Writing on here can be self-absorbing. I think where my blogging diverges from true narcissism is the self-love and admiration thing. That’s not my bag; I’m more into self-flagellation. It can be a problem.
So there you have the truth that you show up for. I did something unadvisable and I know it. I’m healthy sometimes and sometimes not. I'm bull-headed. I’m smart but can make poor choices. I am insecure and a careful reading of my egocentric blog makes that obvious. I’m in love with a man I got to know under unfortunate circumstances, and collaborating with him brings me joy. He makes me feel more beautiful than I am. He makes me laugh harder than anyone else ever has. And a truth perhaps not often apparent here but terribly important if we’re focusing on honesty: even though I’ll always be a girl who was a wife who got dumped in favor of another lady, my life is more than that. I have a big, messy family that is constantly growing and who I miss all the time. I have friends who care about me more than I deserve. I am part of a yoga community that makes me a better, more interesting person. I have adventures. There was even one day this week where I had lunch at a whorehouse. Now, that was weird.
As for you, Annie, I find you impressive. Your responses were thoughtful and written better than I could have done. Like I’ve said before, I’m grateful that my sharing all this garbage is useful to you and others. Thanks for not being anonymous.
Fake Name Commenter Guy, regarding the part where you called me beef jerky, that was a total crack up because it was so accurate! When I read the comment I’d just come from back-to-back Bikram yoga classes. I was shriveled ‘cause I’d just sweat out all my moisture. My fingers were pruney. I was literally dehydrated meat! And smelly? Oh, absolutely. If you sniffed the yoga stuff drying in my garage you’d puke or pass out. I work hard for that, and I swear that since my divorce my sweat has started to smell worse. I think it’s liquid hate seeping out of my pores, and there’s no way that has a nice fragrance.
That said, if you want to insult me, don’t go the meat route. I’m a vegetarian, so that’s not relevant enough to hurt. If you really want to get under my skin, call me fat. Even if it isn’t true, I’ll believe you, got on some severe diet, and damage my organs. Calling me fat would be way more effective than saying Carrie is a piece of steak and I’m jerky.
Hey, and high five on the fake names. They’re a lot more creative than what I would have come up with in your situation. I probably would have used stuff like Huck Fun, Temperance Brennan, Ender Wiggins, or Darth Vader. Yours were almost believable.