I am what I like to call an AOL casualty. Back in 1997, I was introduced to AOL and its dangerously addictive Instant Messaging and Chat Rooms. This new and exciting phenomenon was like a drug put in front of our faces. I partook of it like so many others. There were no warning labels, it was too new; we could not predict the problems it would cause. It was to dramatically change the course of my life for over a decade.
I had just finished three years of either being pregnant or nursing. I was needing to have my body back and a sense of me back. It wasn’t enough to have a loving husband who complimented me all the time. He always complicated me when I looked my worst. As nice as it was, how could I trust that? In under two years I had three babies (Don’t do the math, I had twins!) and I was knee deep in baby puke. Yes, they are the most perfect creatures I could ever dream of and I would gladly throw myself in front of a train for them, but this was a challenge I was not prepared for. My life became so much a haze of repetitiveness that I dreaded going to sleep at night. I knew I would wake up only to do the same thing over and over again.
From the moment I created that AOL screen name, I was hooked. It was like VIP access to the hottest club. To try and put myself into the headspace of this time period is very difficult as I feel I no longer know this person. I remember discovering the chat rooms (Do they even still exist?). I am such a paranoid person that it is hard to imagine I put myself in a place of anonymous creepers (no offense). I suppose the fact that we were anonymous gave us all a place to be who ever we wanted to be; a safe haven to explore our dark sides. It was all very exciting to someone so inexperienced in life, love and sex. I had married my high school sweetheart…not much more to say there.
I should have seen the warning sign when a woman I had befriended IM’d me. She asked if someone in particular was communicating with me. Apparently, her and BigJohn10 (insert eye roll) or something or other, had been communicating for some time and now, he had suddenly cut her off. She seemed very distraught over the whole thing. Eventually, I came to find out that she was seeing someone else she met online and her life was in complete turmoil. Of course, I ignored this sign.
Then one fateful evening, as I was hanging out in a “married” chat room, someone IM’d me. Let’s call him James, to protect the not-so-innocent and because I like the name. James came into my life like an unstoppable force that left me weak-kneed and senseless. Even though we had a four hour time difference, we chatted intensely online every evening. It brought excitement to my day. It gave me energy to live with a passion that had long been sucked out of me. I had met someone who was so very different than me, yet the same. Someone who could match me, mental punch for punch and someone who could teach me.
So there I became Mommy by day, Adulteress On Line by night. I thought I had long forgiven myself for this part of my life, but putting it into words and out into the universe makes me feel ashamed and embarrassed. I honestly don’t know this person anymore. Well, from the beginning, here in this space, I promised to be open and honest. So this is me. Perfectly not perfect.
Up next: A secret life.