I really didn't know how I'd feel if I ran across someone I knew on the list.
It didn't take long to find out, for I saw name after name that was familiar to me.
How did I feel?
- I felt sick that cheating on one's spouse is as simple as signing up on a website.
- I felt sick about the sheer number of people on the list, and the pain and betrayal represented.
- I felt sick that I was potentially seeing this highly personal information before the spouses and children did.
- And I felt sick that I had let my curiosity lead me down a path where I didn't belong.
It's easy to say that those on the site literally SIGNED UP FOR this kind of scrutiny and judgment by giving their names, emails, and credit card numbers to a website with the tagline is "Life is Short. Have an Affair," but instead of focusing on their behavior, I felt convicted by mine.
I felt complicit in the pain that unsuspecting spouses are experiencing right now, or will be in the next few days. There is much discussion of karma, and about those who stray getting what they deserve. I understand that. As a straight-laced rule follower, the thought appeals to me. I am a seeker of LIGHT and TRUTH and believe that secrets that remain hidden do nothing but fester and rot. Because of this, I think good will come out of the scandal.
What doesn't appeal to me is the pain of the wronged spouses being compounded by the fact that this has aired in a public forum where friends and neighbors whom you bump into in the produce aisle can peer inside your marriage. Gracious. Life is hard enough as it is.
Here's a blog post that touched me today as I thought of the families who are or will be dealing with fall-out from the Ashley Madison scandal. There is not a one-size-fits-all response to infidelity, and I don't claim to have any advice, but I wanted to say if today has been a particularly, epically, publicly, brutal one for you, I am so sorry.
And as for my need to scour the list for names I knew, THIS is what was playing on a loop in my mind as I did it. I just wish I'd listened more closely:
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."