>One chapter

>A couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite cousins called me, asking me if I wanted to take advantage of his extra ticket to the UT/South Carolina game. Over the course of our brief phone conversation, my cousin joked that if you called my voice mail, you’d definitely know where my loyalty in college football was and if that weren’t enough, my blog title was a big clue. Well, at least he assumed it was my blog after reading a few entries. Either that or there was someone else out there scarily similar to me.

Friends and family Googling me and finding my blog is something happening more and more these days. I’ve never really gone out of my way to hide my true identity from the on-line world, though I will admit I’m more transparent about some things in my life on-line that others. (For the record, I am probably more annoying about my undying love for all things Big Orange in person than I am on-line…)

I enjoy hearing from friends and family members that they’ve found my blog. Or those rare occasions when I’m able to reconnect with an old friend either because they left a comment or they dropped an e-mail. I also understand there’s another side to being transparent in my on-line identity–the fact that people from my past who aren’t fond of me could find the blog and read up on me. That hasn’t really bothered me that much, except for the idea that if you dislike me that much, why are you wasting your time reading the blog?

That said, someone with an ax to grind found my blog earlier this week and decided to be clever and leave a spiteful comment. It was a comment in response to Tish’s meme about getting to know the real me and it took the chance to dredge up some incidents from my past I’m not proud of. Specifically, the commenter went into details about the final days of my crumbling marriage and some of the circumstances surrounding my divorce.

I’ll admit, the comment bothered me, probably a lot more than it should have. And it wasn’t that the comments bothered me that much because of what they said, but because of the cowardly way in which they were said. The commenter in question felt strongly enough to hammer me and post these comments about me, but yet didn’t have the courage or the conviction to take credit for them.

In a lot of ways, the comments reminded me a lot of this whole “coaching hot seat” thing going on surrounding Phil Fulmer this year. We’ve got a lot of arm-chair experts out there who can and will call into radio call-in shows under an assumed identity and blast Fulmer and the coaching staff for their perceived sins.

But you have to ask yourself–do these so-called experts know the whole story?

Probably not.

But they think they do. And they have their own ideas and preconceptions about the circumstances and the people involved.

An episode of Babylon Five included the line, “There are three sides to every story. One side, the other side and then the truth which is somewhere in between.” (I’ve butchered the quote horribly paraphrasing it, but you get what I’m trying to say). And that can be applied to the experience of my marriage and divorce.

Am I proud of that chapter in my life? No. Do I have regrets about it? Yes.

I’m not proud that I stood up before God, my family and my friends and made a covenant that I broke. I’m not proud of the fact that I wasn’t the kind of husband and man my ex-wife needed me to be. I’m not proud of the fact that we allowed things to get so far gone that there was no hope of salvaging our life together.

But I don’t regret loving her, being loved by her and the times we had when things were good or even great between us. I regret it ended not with our sitting on the front porch with our grandchildren, but instead in the stark coldness of signatures on legal documents.

And I know I caused a lot of pain and heartache. But I had my own pain and heartache as well. It wasn’t something I woke up one morning and thought would be a fun thing to do.

That said, I knew when I started this blog that it’d be out there for people in my life–past, present and future–to find. And by opening up a thread where you can leave a comment about me, I suppose I opened up the door that this person went through. And yes, that is part of getting to know me, it’s part of the overall tapestry that is my life. But I put more stock in the words of those who actually have the courage to stand up and identify themselves to me than someone who cruises in, leaves a comment and doesn’t take credit for it. And that’s why I deleted it. Not because I’m afraid of facing that part of my life–believe me, I’ve spent a lot of time doing that. But because I refuse to let it define who I am. I refuse to let just one chapter define the overall story of my life.

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