|[Photo Credit: AshleyMadison.com]|
The news is all abuzz with reports of the Ashley Madison hack, and how it's outing prominent people in the government, giving data to where cheaters live and work, and casting a harsh, glaring light on hypocritical public figures.
As a woman who's been on the other side of the cheating equation, you'd think I'd be dancing a gleeful little dance, and I'm honest enough to admit that part of me did just that. See cheaters? This is what happens! No matter how careful you think you are, the seeds you sow grow into giant monstrous things that always, always devour the best of your worst intentions.
But then I think about it - really think about it.
I try to imagine how my daughter would feel, having her Dad's name all over the internet, outed for his foolish and cowardly choices - because that's what cheating is, in its essence. It's a cowardly act. There is only one reason anyone cheats: because they choose to do so. That's it.
All that talk about terrible spouses or marital discord or lack of physical attention is just noise. There are a thousand reasons for people to be miserable in a marriage, and there are always two people making that marriage miserable to some degree. But people of character, people with integrity and compassion - they have the honest, but difficult conversations. They move to resolve, either by reconciling or moving on, and they follow through. They don't take a vacation between someone else's legs when the going gets rough. Or just because they're bored.
These people did, and yes, their spouses most certainly deserve to know that they did - but their children shouldn't have to know it, too. Their spouses certainly deserve to know about it, but not this way. Not in a public forum, smeared all over the internet for family, friends, neighbors, coworkers to see. Not posted on a never-ending billboard that will be accessible on any search engine for years to come.
I speak from personal experience when I tell you that short of death, there are few things as devastating as finding out that you're married to someone you don't really know. Someone who would gamble your love, your children's intact family, and their own personal honor without a whole lot of forethought for the consequences. It makes you feel like you're living with a space alien, who suddenly crawled into your spouse's skin. It makes you doubt everything you believed about yourself. It makes you feel expendable, disposable, less than nothing.
All of that is more than anyone should reasonably have to bear. To add public humiliation to the pile is just inhuman.
So you'll excuse me if I read about this hack and you don't see me crowing. It's hard to crow when a hundred ugly memories rush over you, and bile is stuck in your throat.