Six months ago, I posted this status update on Facebook:
So what do you do when you learn that the man you love and trusted for 20 years has had a secret girlfriend on the side for the past decade? You break up with him, change your relationship status on Facebook and then try to get on with the rest of your life.
However lousy your life may be today, just be glad you're not me.
Mike was smart and funny and I loved him dearly. The one thing I knew for absolute certain was that he loved me truly and well.
Until I found out about his other girlfriend. After a decade of perfect cover-up, he slipped up and left this private Facebook text to Millie on my computer: "I love you and I have always loved you."
After Mike came clean about the affair and I showed him the door, I shared the awful news with my family and friends. And then I shared it on Facebook. Why? Instead of spending the day breaking the awful news to people, over and over, I just had to post it once and everyone would know. Isn't that exactly what Facebook is for?
The first responses to my post were immediate and heartfelt:
Oh no, oh no. Sending hugs.
WFT?? Mike? Another girlfriend? How is that even possible?
I am so sorry and shocked. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.
OMG! What a creep. Stay strong.
I was devastated but I wasn't alone. My friends had my back:
Oof. That's a gut punch. He failed you. Big time. But you'll prevail.
I'm so sorry. You loved him so much. You don't deserve this.
His loss, Roz. But what a blow! I'm so sorry.
Know one thing. You did not fail here. He failed you. Big time.
What followed was one of the worst days of my life. But I was consoled, buoyed up and even at times amused by the dozens of loving and supportive comments I got, from friends I'd known since grade school to people who only knew me on Facebook. There was shock and sympathy:
I'm heartbroken for you.
What a loser. I'm sorry you have to go through this. I am furious on your behalf.
Sorry, Roz, for the cesspool of deceit and betrayal that creep dumped on you. You did nothing to deserve this.
You deserve so much better. Sending plenty of hugs -- and a big gut punch to Mr. Scumbag.
There was plenty of name-calling:
Let me say, on behalf of men everywhere: what a dick!
I'm so sorry, Roz. What an asshole!
He is a piece of shit.
SCHMUCK! SCHMUCK! SCHMUCK!
He is a sneaky rat for living a double life for so long.
They also gave me encouragement and advice:
Dump him. Keep your sense of humor.
Betrayal is a big one. Find a good therapist. My heart hurts for you.
You've made the right choice. Break up and move forward. Sending strength and love.
Surround yourself with people who support you. Allow yourself to grieve as well as be angry. Remember the good times. Then burn his stuff and sage the house.
The continuing wave of love and support got me through that awful day. I may have lost my best friend, but every one of my other friends made sure I knew they were there for me.
They posted links to songs, like Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive." They shared quotes and Virtual Hugs and Emoticons. I received offers of tea and sympathy, coffee and conversation. My phone rang and rang as my closest pals reached out. I had heart-to-hearts with people I hadn't spoken to in years.
Even the local host of Morning Edition, who'd interviewed me when my last book came out, emailed to make sure I was okay.
I'd never really thought about all of the people who care about me. Until the day Mike betrayed me, when I heard from them all.
It was like being able to attend your own funeral and listen to all of the great things people say about you. But I was still alive! It was just my sad excuse for a relationship that had died. And, let's face it -- a 20-year-old relationship going down in flames because I stumbled upon some dopey love text on Facebook?
That wasn't a tragedy; it was more of a farce.
Which didn't mean that it didn't hurt.
The next day I posted this status update:
Seeing how many people care has been the only silver lining. It's not as if there's some kind of an equation, and all of this support cancels out Mike's betrayal. But all of you are helping me get through this and I am grateful.
When I do find another man, I look forward to posting about it on Facebook. In the meantime? I'm 62. I'm single. I've got an amazing group of friends and family. And I'm looking for a guy who is honest. Smart. Funny, Kind. And who only wants one girlfriend.
If you know that man? Introduce us. If you are that man? Get in touch.
You can start by friending me on Facebook.