How much do I owe you? And what do we owe each other?

Last week I was approached by the Australian publication Mamamia to do a blog about my recent separation. I agreed but – I had some clear guidelines.

1. This wasn’t to be a he said, she said article. It was to be about about the separation.

2. I wasn’t happy talking about the whys. From the outset, I have said I wouldn’t talk about this. It’s too raw and too personal.

3. And, I won’t say anything bad about my ex. It was never anyone fault and he was my partner for 7 years.

Mamamia loved the maturity of the approach and I decided to write on the feeling of why we feel like we SHOULD do something, not really because we WANT too. I also chose to mention the polarity about having massive success but people only being focused on me being unmarried and then my choice to bow to the social pressure. The piece came out nicely and it was exactly what I wanted - It was about my separation, I didn’t unpack anything and I said nice things about my ex.

Overall, I got really positive feedback. It was featured globally in different locations - MSN, ABC, MSNBC, The Age and other publications from around the world – Melbourne, Los Angeles, London, Vancouver. My inbox exploded. 50+ people felt comfortable enough to share their similar experiences with me. Some sought advice and I felt good about my little contribution to other people. But then I totally fucked up and READ THE COMMENTS ON THE ARTICLE.

‘Why didn’t she tell us WHY they broke up?’ 
‘I bet she cheated’ 
‘I hate it when they don’t tell you the real story. They clearly had issues before’ 
‘She is selfish – marry the guy and then leave him…’

Wow…

Most of them from a person named ‘Matt Chris' or something, or people responding to MattChris. So MattChris… you know I’m a real person, right? Real life, real situation, real things happening to me. To prove this point, I’m writing this on a Greyhound Bus somewhere in the middle of Arizona, wearing sweatpants and I’ve had maybe 6 hours sleep in 2 days. Do you know what makes this prove I am a real person? This is the last thing someone would make up about where they are.

I have actively chosen a career in a public forum and I knew I should not have read the comments – but curiosity got the better of me. So this is 100% on me.

But it got me thinking about the question – how much do I owe to other people? Just because I’m comfortable talking about one very niche aspect on my life and in this case my divorce, does that mean I owe other people other things? It also got me wondering does this kind of thing prevent other entrepreneurs stepping into their power? Do they read the comments immediately decide they don’t want to be in that level of scrutiny where someone could read a topic, demand to know more, judge me on their perceptions and declare that I cheated (I didn’t) and that I’m selfish (Not that either unless you try to steal my dessert)?

So taking a leaf out of The Good Place, I’m re-framing this question. Instead of what do I owe you, how about WHAT DO WE OWE EACH OTHER? 
MattChris, get ready cause this is mostly you.

Here is what I think we owe each other.

1. Don’t be a dick

2. Don’t hurt other people or yourself

3. Don’t judge other people. You don’t know their shit.

4. Remember that we are all human and to be a human is complicated and messy and there are always feelings attached.

This is the basic list I think we should all follow and I promise to remember the above things under all circumstances.

I also promise that I will never read the comments again. Wish me luck on this bus ride. A full 24 hours to go…

JA x

Jemimah AshleighComment