Today I want to share a bit of a personal message from me as well as my thoughts on the next steps for the site. I started this website in September of 2009. Seven months prior to this, I found out my husband cheated on me and it was one of the lowest points in my life. In the beginning, I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, not even my family or friends. I searched online to see if anyone else was in similar pain from a cheating husband, and I could not find a site. After 7 months, I felt a little better and I remember thinking to myself that no one should ever feel as alone as I felt. I wondered if expressing my thoughts online would help someone else not feel so alone. I decided to start a blog and promised myself I would share my deepest feelings and emotions. If I could help one person in a dark hour in their lives, then it would be worth it. So I started writing. For the first couple of months I received no comments and only had a few visitors. Eventually, one person wrote me a personal message. She told me she understood exactly how I felt and she felt bad no one responded to my writing on the website. She wanted to tell me I am not alone in my thoughts. What she didn’t realize is that I was on the verge of quitting the blog when she wrote me, and her single message to me gave me hope that what I was writing might be valuable. I kept writing.
Fast forward to the present moment – I cannot believe what the site has become! I have interacted with women all over the world who have experienced the pain of infidelity. As the website started to grow, I made a couple of rules along the way. I knew my mental state was low when I started the blog so I made a promise that my site would be a place of positive support, which is why messages are reviewed before being posted. One can certainly disagree with me or any of my visitors, but mean and rude comments would not be allowed. The other rule was that no matter who wrote to me, it would not be my place to criticize, judge, or force my opinion on them. Wives can tell me their husband cheated on them multiple times and I would seek to understand, not judge. Cheating men have contacted me and I seek to understand, not judge. The ‘other woman’ has contacted me and I seek to understand, not judge.
To my surprise, people have opened up and shared such intimate details of their lives. They have shared with me things that they will not share with family or friends. They have shared insecurities that they would never say out loud to anyone. It is an honor for me to say that I have helped many. Some on a very small scale such as making them not feel so alone. This is extremely important because it the reason I started the site. Others have shared they have been depressed for months and my words have empowered them to start the healing process. Some have told me I helped save their marriage.
I learned 5 major lessons along my journey, which I am still on. Below are those lessons in no particular order.
1. One sentence, one kind word, can make a difference in someone’s life. A lady who wrote me a paragraph was the reason I continued writing the blog and didn’t quit. Words are so powerful. If you get a chance to say something nice to someone, say it! You never know what people are going though.
2. Writing is a form of healing. Sometimes situations happen in your life that cause so many different emotions that it is hard to think straight. That is what happened to me. But each time I wrote a blog post or responded to someone, I had to logically think about what I wrote. It was typically a post on one emotion or one thought. The amazing thing that happened is when I focused my mind on writing about the one emotion, my brain could understand and break down that emotion. I could evaluate if I was going overboard with my feelings or not. Writing helped isolate my thoughts so I could manage them properly. Over time, I felt less overwhelmed emotionally. I would tell any person that is going through a difficult situation to start writing. It can be as simple as buying a notebook and just writing how you feel. Do it every day for 2 weeks. What you write does not need to be shared to be effective. I cannot tell you how many people write to me and at the end they say ‘wow I feel better already’. Writing heals.
3. We are more the same than we are different. Pain is a great equalizer. It knows no race, age, or religion. It’s interesting that we get so caught up on the few things that are different than focusing on everything that is similar. I have interacted with people from Asia, India, Europe, rich, poor, black, white, and many of our raw emotions and insecurities are the exact same. People will write to me and often I would think to myself “wow I thought I was the only one who felt that way.” This person had a totally difference life experience, yet we are connected in thought. Simply amazing!
4. The quickest path to healing is to serve others and/or volunteer. I thought in responding to people that wrote to me that I was helping them, and the truth is that it helped me too in extraordinary ways. I would hear stories that were much worse than my situation, and every time that happened I would say thoughts of appreciation. Every time someone took the time out to thank me for a response or for the site in general, my confidence grew. After hearing many stories of how other husband’s cheated, I started to realize that my ex-husband’s cheating was not a personal and intentional attack on me as I had assumed prior. As the anger and pain from my own situation started to disappear, it led me on a path to forgive my ex-husband and most importantly, forgive myself. The emotion of pain and the emotion of serving others cannot exist in the same thought. That is why serving others is an ultimate tool for healing. Seek to volunteer or help someone else in need, and I promise what you will find will serve you better than anything else you can ever imagine.
5. Universal pain has universal solutions. I have been shocked in how much I have in common with women all over the world. What you might not realize from the site is that I have interacted with hundreds of men who have openly shared their thoughts with me on cheating as well. Men’s viewpoint on why they cheat is very similar as well. The themes are consistent. The pain is consistent. If the thoughts and pain are consistent and universal, the solution should be universal as well. If I share with you how I healed from this experience, it should work on you as well.
I have so much more that I want to share. What I have learned about relationships and marriage is too much to write in one blog post. I have been working on a book, responding to those that reach out as well as working on maintaining the website. I also have been trying to explore other forms of communication online like social media. Unfortunately, my split focus is not working. I have to focus more and I have decided the best route to take at this time is to spend less time with one-on-one responses, in order to finish the book. The goal of writing is very similar to the goal I had when I started the site – I am writing the book in order to help one’s marriage, that’s it. My hope is that my writing will go into more depth than an individual response, and will allow more room for growth and healing.
Until now, I have been anonymous. People that contact me have no idea who I am, all they know is that we share a similar experience of pain. I stayed anonymous on purpose. Part of this reasoning was my own fear. Affairs are such a controversial topic and I was not sure I wanted to embark on this type of issue other than the website. However, recently I realized that my desire to share what I have learned has become bigger than my fear. The second reason is that I like things to be perfect, when I started the site it was full of imperfections, and it still is. I kept waiting until everything was perfect with the site, but now I realize the site imperfections are more of a reflection of me than a perfect site. Last but not least, I remained anonymous as more of my own social/personal experiment. I wanted to see if I could be of value to someone else without that person knowing my age or race. I am an African-American female in my 30’s (I was in my late 20’s when I started the blog). We all have thoughts that come to mind when we look at someone. I did not want a subconscious thought about who I was to lead the interaction with visitors. I wanted to lead with support, lead with empathy and lead with empowerment.
As I embark in new adventures in learning and growth, I will be sure to share. Make sure you are on my email list as those who are on the list will get special treatment from me (smile). This site will remain, although, as stated before I will not be responding as much.
As far as what is next for this site? One of my mentors told me to ask my email list what they would like to see in the site, and go from there. And that is exactly what I plan to do. To each one of you that has ever contacted me, thank you for changing my life and sharing a part of yours with me. Peace, love, and hugs to all of you.