There is one over-arching thing I’ve learned in life: its much less about what life gives you, and much more about how you play the hand you are dealt.
I could regale you with tales about how ridiculous people became when all this went down, but I could also rave about the support I received from people who not only had little or no information about why I was suddenly divorced, but cheered despite their unanswered questions, having faith that I was still the good person they knew and loved. They truly wanted me to be happy. It was one of those moments where you actually get to see, taste and live with unconditional love.
I want to reiterate that by this time, my kid’s mom and I were on pretty good terms. I doubt she was cheering me on, but I believe she genuinely wanted me to be happy. The first morsel of negativity I’ll share was relayed through her. We had joked a few times about how crazy this ride had become, and she made the mistake of mentioning how a few people had messaged her to say how cruel it was for me to do this to her. My curiosity pressed me to ask who this was, but she remained silent, at their request. The only indication she gave was that it was not just one person – a number of people had messaged to express their concern for her. I really hope, deep down, that she understands that this was never aimed at her.
Maybe I’m Just Evil?
If you’ve ever played hide and seek with kids, you’ll find that there is always one that does a horrible job of staying hidden. They’ll wiggle, peek around corners, and giggle and squeak – ultimately revealing their hiding spot. Fortunately for my curiosity, some of these negative people couldn’t keep their opinions to themselves. The first one called me out on a Facebook post. After deleting her negativity from the post, she followed it up with a direct message full of reproach. It was of epic proportions – paragraphs on paragraphs, calling me out for my evil ways. How dare I ‘stick-it-to-her’ like this. I certainly must be evil if I masterfully orchestrated this viral campaign just to punish my kid’s mom.
Sarcasm aside, I’m certain most of her vehemence was strictly out of concern for her friend. What baffles me is how far someone can let themselves go unchecked. This lady went out of her way to win the prize in this regard. First, she called me out on this very public Facebook post, after which I confronted her and challenged her assumptions. We had a few simple exchanges through Facebook when I finally realized that she had no intention of trying to understand my side. For my own mental health, I decided to just block her relentless negativity (when dealing with depression, you don’t need people around telling you that you are a <insert random expletives here>). Surprisingly, that wasn’t the end of her rage. Email from her started to roll in – attempts at reconciling sandwiched between further reproach. G-Mail spam-blocker to the rescue. Then it went next level. Ryan Jespersen, the host of Breakfast Television, called me the day before I was to appear on his show for Valentines. He had received a call from a lady that was concerned I was leading the good public of Edmonton into a complex lie. He said it was a frantic phone call from someone who had more than enough to say about how bad of a person I was, and that somehow a Facebook check-in at Blues on Whyte a few days prior happened to be on the same day a potential bachelorette checked in. Conspiracy is afoot! Now, anyone who knows me knows that Blues on Whyte is a favorite spot of mine, so while it may have been oddly coincidental, Edmonton is a REALLY small town in many respects. I guess it was more than coincidence that the check-in happened to be about the same time I blocked this person on social media, but she was certain that this check-in was an indication that she should call the host of Breakfast Television and inform him of this material fact. Ryan wasn’t halfway through describing the caller’s concerns when I realized who he was talking about. I’m not sure what she was hoping to accomplish, but I hope she got the closure she needed.
I think the lesson I learned here was that my past did not have to have control of my future. It was difficult, mostly because I’m generally a people pleaser – I don’t like leaving things on bad terms, which usually leaves me to sacrifice more than I probably should.
Careful Who You Call Friends
The next manifestation was through people I know. As mentioned in a previous post, my kids mom and I were on pretty good terms (see: this post I wrote about getting along with your ex). She had asked me not to spread things around publicly (for her own reasons), so there wasn’t anyone that really knew unless they were especially close to us. I even went to the trouble of making my Facebook profile private while changing my relationship status strictly for the purpose of avoiding Facebook broadcasting the change to the (our) world. This created an unforeseen challenge for me. When this went viral, people knew nothing about our separation and impending divorce, leaving many shocked to see me in the media as a single person. All of a sudden I was the one who broke the news, and in a pretty viral and seemingly inconsiderate way. Without being able to set the stage, it left my actions out for scrutiny by those who didn’t first want to seek understanding. Phone calls, email, text messages, DM’s – they all started rolling in. Despite the obvious shock, most were very understanding when I explained why they hadn’t heard, and were positive about this little mess I’d gotten myself into.
There were however a few that were not ok with it. Like the lady I mentioned in the beginning, some felt I had done this to be vindictive, to exact revenge on my kids mom as a retaliation for something even they couldn’t explain. Both her and I had made it clear to our friends and family that we didn’t have any desire for people to pick sides. Despite the circumstances that lead to my decision to pull the plug on our marriage, neither of us had any desire to focus on anything other than the kids. But some people just can’t help taking sides. Some were silent, unfriending or un-following me quietly, while others were vocal in their disdain.
Those ‘friends’ taught me a critical lesson about true friends. I hope that I will always give my friends the benefit of the doubt. To give them a chance to not just be seen as the human they are, but to share why they are where they are – IF they choose to share that with me.
The General Public
I really didn’t know what to expect from the general public, and to be quite frank, I never considered it would get that far. I guess in some ways I was not surprised at all the energy it unleashed, but in other ways I was baffled. For those who cheered me on, I wasn’t surprised. People identify with a someone trying to find something whimsical and spontaneous. To live vicariously through others is something of a human staple. Our folklore, our books, our movies, all circle around our ability to put ourselves in situations we are curious about but may never experience. What baffled me was the sheer volume of those cheering me on.
I also expected the opposite. There is always someone waiting to rain on a parade or pee on a campfire. What I did not expect was how diverse the allegations would be. Some called me desperate – although a friend did a count on a local radio stations Facebook post and found that nearly every one of the negative comments was male, likely wishing they had been the one to catch this train. Others called me creepy, shallow, or unoriginal.
The only unarguable part is that as everything unfolded, it spurred a lively discussion, both for and against my plight. I’ve captured as much as I could in these links, so if you find anything I’m missing, please let me know.
- I blame Kathleen and this tweet (as well as this and this tweet) for throwing gasoline on the small little flame I started.
- I figured out that Janelle is probably the one responsible for connecting me and ‘Anna’ thanks to her posting the ad on Facebook
- My ad kept being reported and removed because of offensive material.
- Carla Howatt retweeting Kathleen’s shout-out.
- My tweets over the 2 week timeframe leadig up to the date.
Would I do it again?
In conclusion, I really didn’t have much by the way of expectations for this whole event, so when critics showed up, it never really phased me. This whole event was just another stop on path of life, and what I took from it was all I was going to get. I could listen to the those who thought I should just pack up and go home, or, I could take the bull by the horns and ride that sucker into the sunset. It’s never a smooth ride to be on the back of a bull, but it sure makes a better story than if I had sat on the sidelines watching it run past.
Since I was young, I’ve had one truth stick with me my entire life – if you think you might fail at something that is worth doing, dive in with so much energy that if you do fail, you’ll fail so spectacularly that you forget that failure is a bad thing. I know that’s pretty wordy, but I can promise you this – you’ll have more great memories than missed opportunities.