Yesterday, I made my blog private and removed all my followers as a precautionary measure. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue blogging.
You see, blogging was a major step out of my comfort zone. I do like writing and writing about the troubles in my life is therapeutic but I don’t like the attention and I don’t want the advice.
I started this blog in a haze of grief and desperation. I read blogs to help me cope. I began to feel writing would help me. Then I thought my writing would help others too. So I took the plunge and put out my marriage drama for anyone to see.
I thought at most a small handful of people would read and get something out of it. The comments started coming in and they were supportive. I liked that there was this little community, a support group for victims of infidelity. I didn’t even mind that a few perpetrators of infidelity were in this group because still, it was all about support, self improvement, and bettering our relationships with people.
The followers became more than a handful and the views increased. While people with blogs generally want an increase in viewership, it only made me more uncomfortable and less willing to share but I kept on anyway. Blogging was helping me and it was even helping some readers. I felt I needed to push on.
Then the comments started coming in from people outside the little group I came to know as our little support group. Some I approved, some I did not. They were not words of support or understanding, they were now advice and judgements.
I considered quitting but I thought maybe I could engage and explain a little more or I could ignore. I didn’t want to remove comments all together because I liked how people gave supporting words or related to my issues. There was no infidelity support group to go to in person so I wanted to keep the community part of this.
Finally, a pre-approved comment came in that was so ignorant, I knew it could only be coming from a cheater, and sure enough it was. I dismissed it at first but it upset a member of my little group, then another member came in and tried to give the abrasive nonsense validity.
I went to sleep and the next morning I saw all this extra attention regarding the comment and I decided I wanted out. I wasn’t comfortable with sharing as it was and getting that kind of feedback was not something I wanted to deal with. I’m a very private person. I don’t like to share my experiences with people unless it’s a one on one conversation where I can lay out the facts and then the person can provide their opinion to my face.
When you’re not protected behind a computer or phone, tact matters. When I’ve told you my story in person, it’s because I feel that you have earned the right to hear it and respond. Then you can advise, disagree or argue with me.
These anonymous know-it-all opinions are a different beast that I was aware of and expecting as my blog grew in popularity but still, it wasn’t something I wanted to deal with. I have a relatively thick skin about Internet bullshit but this time it’s regarding the most soul-crushing trauma I’ve ever experienced. Forgive me if I’m having trouble ignoring comments on this subject. So when it came to be too much, I decided I would stop blogging because of course, if you don’t want feedback, don’t put it out there.
But here’s the problem: I don’t want that kind of feedback but putting it out there has been very therapeutic and I do like that it has touched other people’s lives. So, ‘if you don’t like negative feedback, don’t blog’ is kind of like saying, ‘if you don’t like getting cavities filled, don’t go to the dentist’. Of course I don’t like the bad parts about it but maybe doing it is beneficial overall.
I actually gave my marriage a second chance because of my blogging about it. Because of the things I recalled as I wrote, I began to see my relationship with Carol with a new perspective. I began to remember why I fell in love with her and what we still had together. I’ve been able to reflect on our conversations, therapy sessions, conflicts and arguments in a way that I couldn’t if I just kept them in my memory alone.
Now, if you’ve read my blog and you think you’ve got enough about me to provide some serious advice or criticism, here’s the thing:
You don’t know Jack.
Even if I was writing for an audience of only myself, I still would write similarly to how I am now because I’m a paranoid, untrusting person. I write with the expectation that someone is going to find it and read it. Yes, I’ve written enough details that someone who knows me quite personally will be able to read this blog and determine that it is me. Even that’s further than I wanted to take it.
But still, you don’t know Jack.
You don’t know my name. You don’t know about most of my daily interactions with Carol. You don’t know what I do with my kids at all. You don’t know what I look like. You don’t know my hobbies. You don’t know what I do at my job. You don’t know what Carol does at her job. A Reformed Cad asked what I did to celebrate the end of Carol’s previous job and what we did with the kids while he was judging my reaction over the hug. He doesn’t know because I kept those parts to myself. It’s not the thing I need to write about so I don’t.
You do know some things about my relationship. You know some things about my past. You know a fair amount about my health. You know a lot about the infidelity and my struggles to move on.
I write about situations that bother me, that impact my relationship with Carol as we try to move forward after infidelity. That’s what I share for the most part. But I also write for an audience and again, even if it was an audience of one, I would still write like I do because of my paranoia. I also enjoy the creativity of forming a narrative.
So, while my posts are about situations that have actually occurred, they are skewed. They are skewed by my personal interpretations and my inner thoughts, by purposely omitting details that I do not wish to share, by my recollection, by eliminating facts that I deem not relevant enough as I try to retain focus on a specific conflict, and by my attempts to present it in an interesting and creative way.
And lately, they’ve been skewed by comments. When I see more comments about how great we are doing, I ramp up the conflict. When I see more comments criticizing Carol, I downplay her role in our conflicts, when I see more comments praising my behaviour, I dial up my role in our conflicts. What I’m trying to do is show you that this isn’t a matter of me vs. Carol or wronged vs. the wrong. It’s about two people with all the flaws and complexity of being human trying to make it through life.
Yes, it is all based on truth but it’s not the whole truth. The things I write are firstly for me to remember, to go back and reflect on, and I certainly don’t need to write all the details in a post for me to be able to go back and recall everything that actually happened. What you get is the gist of a portion of my reconciliation.
On top of that, there are things I forget to mention that may be relevant or things I’ve not yet covered. Also, things in our history that give certain comments or actions more weight than someone on the outside could understand.
With all the above in mind, let’s look at my most recent post as an example, End of a Chapter.
First, I start with Carol sobbing and trying to explain herself after a conflict I have not yet described. Instead of starting from the beginning, I start somewhere in the middle for the sake of expressing myself in a creative and interesting fashion.
Then I rewind back to the conflict. There’s no mention of what we were doing that weekend, how we celebrated, who we saw, what the kids were doing, or even my other conversations with Carol because the focus and point of the post was the conflict.
In spite of the conflict being set off by Carol’s admission, Carol did not in fact use the wording I used. This was a case of being influenced by previous comments. Just before I published the post, I altered her wording in an attempt to lessen the inevitable criticism of her. What she actually said was not only more puzzling and anger inducing, it was also a callback to previous behaviour in our relationship that I’ve not mentioned in my blog but was an issue that she agreed in counselling that she needed to work on.
Going back to the sobbing explanation, that was another case of me not providing a transcription of events but getting out the general idea. Carol was actually sobbing so hard, I couldn’t figure out most of what she was saying. It was some serious crying and I personally have a unique reaction to such things that I do not wish to explain so instead, I stated that I went back to playing a game with Sarah.
When I received the hug from Carol, I wanted to show that I wasn’t quite into it yet by saying my words came out robotically and I wasn’t hugging back. It was an exaggeration of me feeling insincere in my comforting of Carol due to my lingering anger.
My description of fuming and contemplating leaving was again the truth, but I was putting special focus on the anger and doubt aspect of it and not the sadness and hope and desire to go to her. I wanted to remind myself of the anger because it was important for me to keep in mind how far the story will go in my head when I’m committed to staying angry and show my audience that the anger is still there and can get pretty extreme.
My point is, you’re offered a skewed, altered snippet of my struggles with infidelity. Yes, you do know more than I’m comfortable with any stranger knowing but you don’t have the whole picture.
Can you criticize myself or Carol with what you know about us?
You can but it’d be an uninformed opinion. Sure, all the positive comments are uninformed too but they’re not negative so of course I’m not going to get as bent out of shape over them. If someone says we’re making great progress, that is nice to say and it also happens to be true. When someone says I handled a situation well, I may not completely agree but at least it was a positive comment.
Look at what I’m going through. Do you honestly think I need some harsh reality dropped on me by some anonymous know-it-all? Firstly, you don’t know enough about me and my situation, even if you’ve read all my posts, to form meaningful feedback. Secondly, I have my own therapist and marriage counsellor who have more informed opinions on my situation than you ever will. Thirdly, infidelity is enough harsh reality as it is without you dropping ‘knowledge’ on me.
I can’t police the Internet. If it comes to be too much, I know what I need to do. This post is here to explain myself after recent events and to maybe catch a few of those comments before they get composed. If you are a decent, well-meaning person but you think you know what I need to do and you think you need to tell me, maybe this post will give you pause and think, “You know what? He’s got his own path, his own support network in real life to guide him, and there’s more to him than what he’s showing me. Maybe I’ll just keep it to myself. Maybe a few words of encouragement or a ‘I know how you feel’ is all I need to say.”
Most of us are here because of a traumatic experience that left us looking for other people’s stories so we won’t feel so alone. We could all use a little bit of understanding and tact.
You don’t know Jack but you might know all too well what I’m going through. Let’s just tell each other what we’ve been through and how we feel, and save the advice and judgements for something else.
Interesting facts about Jack:
“I am Jack’s broken heart” is a reference to the movie, Fight Club.
“Joe” is a reference to the fact that “Jack” is known as “Joe” in the novel, Fight Club.
“Fight Club” is neither my favourite movie or novel but it sure is relatable.
Joe is the only character who has the same name in both my blog and real life. I first spoke of him by name to my therapist while under hypnosis. I have since told Carol about him.
Several people I know personally know I have a blog but no one has read it or even knows what it’s called.
Most names I use are references to fictional characters. Some are named after other people that I know who are similar. “Carol” is the only name that has no ties to anything.