The Aftermath Of Ashley Madison: Thoughts On The Victims
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By Kate Buckholz Berrio, Contributor - May 23, 2016

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For some reason, last year’s Ashley Madison hacking scandal popped back into my head today. I realized that like every other sensational news story it had its moment in the sun and then--poof! Vanished. What of those dear ones who searched the list or a browser history and confirmed the dark, nagging suspicion sitting under their hearts? Where must they be today? I was super, super judgy about this topic because it hit rather close to home and today while I sit here still battling my way through the very last threads of a marriage, I want to share some thoughts on love, adultery, and the internet, with the incredible all-access pass to bad choices it presents us with everyday.

First, let’s consider the tagline of Ashley Madison: "Life is short. Have an affair." Why not "Life is short, climb a mountain. Life is short, take care of your heart and your spouse's. Life is short, cure fucking cancer. Life is short, fight for human rights and clean water." Sorry, but life is NOT too short for an affair-- in fact, it's the very opposite. We get one shot on this planet with the gift and miracle of love in partnership and it's up to you to do something with that. You took vows, so on that day, you sort of thought this might be something you could get on board with, yes?

I have wrestled intimately with what fidelity, vows, marriage and the sanctity of all of that means and while I understand my own boundaries and values and intend to live them out as I enter my next phase of life. I am however on the whole, worried. I mean, we just make it so EASY to slip into something anonymous and distant. So EASY to seek comfort in a willing stranger. What are we teaching our children about commitment and hard work when it's all just a click away from unraveling through secret, false intimacy?

Being in a marital relationship is likely the hardest thing, along with parenting, that we do as humans. We are really just animals trapped in bodies topped with rational brains. Our physical urges get all caught up in these webs created by thought, emotion, and memory, coupled (pun intended) with another human's unique and totally other web of stuff-- and BOOM, hard fucking work ensues to keep it all together. But that's where the grace, beauty, and light comes in. The hard work and the joy at it paying off. That's why it's called a sacrament. Interestingly, the word "sacrament" comes from the Latin words that mean sacred and solemn oath (straight-forward enough) but also the Greek: mystery. The mystery is the magic- the still small voice, the third eye, gut instinct. The "I don't know exactly why you're it, but you really are." Sacrament.

Now. To the lovelies who are sitting in a deep, dark hole of "holy shit I don't know what to do" because today is your day one, your personal ground zero in the world of infidelity; first, you are not alone. Second, this is NOT about you. This is about the brokenness of someone who hasn't been able to get past some shit, buried somewhere and the internet made it super easy for them to act on it. Chances are, you know what that shit is, cause you married them, and this is how it's oozing out. Repeat after me: this is not about you.

Know that you do not have to do anything that doesn't feel OK to you today. Or any of the days that now follow. You absolutely should go to a doctor to get checked out. But otherwise, you can sit with this. You can tell no one. You can tell everyone. You can make the decision that feels right today: scream from the rooftops or just wait a bit. You are now in survival-land and all things are ok. If you are not ready to publicly scream, I do suggest talking to SOMEone who makes you feel safe and protected. Cause that's the thing, you feel wildly unsafe right now, I know. So, seek out a counselor, a pastor, or a true friend. And, divorce is not everyone's answer. Only you will know, with time, what feels right.

I salute you dear ones, who continue to march forward in the aftermath of Ashley Madison, and after the quieter implosions that have happened every day since due to internet indiscretions. Human connection through technology is an incredibly powerful thing-- and we must treat it as such. Like kryptonite, the atomic bomb or an invisibility cloak: you must treat them humbly and use their powers only for good.

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