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My Comment To Sweetney That She Won’t Publish

On her post, “Two Lives,” I left the following comment for Sweetney, which she is not going to publish:

I have gone back and forth about commenting about this, but I feel compelled to say something, since nobody else will.

So call me a troll (again), but this is not cool.

It’s fantastic that you’re happy, I’m glad for you. Everybody deserves to be happy. But this is the end of a marriage because of adultery, no? And a marriage where kids are involved, I’m assuming, since you couldn’t be with him on Christmas.

So, pretty much a crappy way to let the wife read about the inevitability of love in a public context like that. In my experience, shame serves a positive social function.

Full disclosure: My parents divorced after a similar situation, so I realize this is a hot-button issue for me. But there are times when you see something happening and you know it is wrong, and you can choose to say nothing or you can choose to speak up. For me, this is one of those times. Shame on everyone who continues to encourage this kind of behavior in an ostensible member of our community. You can quote me on that.

She will not be publishing the comment, I suppose, because she doesn’t want to “engage” with me.

Comments (44)

  1. Dec 28, 2009

    It’s weird that all of the comments on that post are supportive. I mean, if you want to do that sort of thing and then confess to it on the internet…well, it’s a free country. But it’s odd that no one would object. If someone said to my husband, “We can’t hook up until you leave your wife” and he left me the next week, I’d be kinda pissed about it. Especially if she wrote about it on the internet, and everyone congratulated her.

    But I don’t read her blog, so maybe it’s just one of those where commenters always agree with the author. My commenters never felt any such obligation…I wish I knew the secret to that.

  2. Dec 28, 2009

    I can understand your anger around this, especially because you were personally touched by a similar situation. But unfortunately life, and relationships especially, are not always black and white, right and wrong, even though people make them out to be that way. Human emotions are a hard thing. And when you feel drawn to someone it’s not a switch you turn on and off. Yes, there are choices to be made when something like that happens. Sometimes those choices are easy, sometimes they’re not. I don’t agree with adultery either. But I will give her credit for owning the decisions she has made at least.

  3. Dec 28, 2009

    @Kerry, yes it would be useful to have the ability to keep all of your comments supportive, all the time. But then you’d have a moderation queue full of crap that you won’t publish, I’d imagine.

  4. Dec 28, 2009

    @princessjenn, yes, life is not black and white, and emotions come when they are inconvenient and all that crap. We can control our actions, though, we are not dogs. We can say, “Hey, I am infatuated with this person, and he is married with kids! I’m going to go run on the treadmill or something until I forget about it, because that is the right thing to do.” I’m not condemning having the feelings, I’m condemning taking the actions that result from the feelings.

  5. Dec 28, 2009

    Maybe I misread the post – but it sounded like HE took action, not her.

  6. Dec 28, 2009

    Fair enough and I don’t disagree with that. But if someone gets to the point where they’re cheating, then the other spouse doesn’t automatically become the victim.
    I’m not condoning cheating. I’m just pointing out that usually there have to be deep fissures in the marriage, sometimes irreparable, for it to get to that point. And there has to be some deep communication issues in the current relationship. It takes two people for a marriage to fail.

    And we are seeing a brief snippet of the actual situation through her blog. To assume we know the whole story, all the players, the big picture, would be ludicrous. We can assume a lot. But the only people who know the whole story is them. If I’ve learned anything from blogging and tweeting, it’s that there is usually a lot more than meets the eye.

  7. Dec 28, 2009

    Must say I agree that it’s weird that everyone is so YAY CHEATING! I’m not saying I’m above less than righteous behavior but I doubt I would blog about the beauty of finding love with a married man without a lot of shame around it. It’s not the action that I find strange because this happens every day. It’s the “isn’t it fantastic?” and the unanimous reponse that “yes, it is wonderful” that is disconcerting.

  8. J.Habersham
    Dec 28, 2009

    I’m glad you called out Sweetney for her part in breaking up the family. It may not be all her doing, but to celebrate her new romance publicly is disgraceful. While his marriage may have been in disarray, his 2 daughters deserved better.

  9. Mary Beth Britt
    Dec 28, 2009

    @PrincessJenn: I am friends with Charlie’s real-life wife and their two young daughters (2 and 8). I know the players and the big picture. What has happened here is pitiable and there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. It is not all nice and tidy like Tracey likes to pretend it is. Perhaps it is easier to push it out of their junior high heads because they are shacking up 10 hours away from his WIFE and CHILDREN.

    I challenge Sweetney to post ALL comments received and not just those that justify the pathetic decisions made weeks before Christmas. (I left a comment as well that I’m sure will never see the light of day). But hey! At least Charlie is playing Littlest Pet Shop with her daughter. Wonder what his own daughters are doing right now?

  10. Dec 28, 2009

    @britt, true, he took the action of leaving his marriage. She took the action of writing a self-congratulatory post that glorifies a relationship started under these circumstances and also the action of not saying, “Hey, I don’t want to be a part of this.” These are actions I, personally, would be ashamed to take. Perhaps not everyone agrees with me, that is fine. But I’m not going to sit back and let it go without saying I think it’s shitty.

  11. Dec 28, 2009

    I should say, I’ve done plenty of stuff I’m ashamed of in life. But I try to avoid it, I try to listen to people when they criticize me, I let negative comments through. I do this because I want to be a better person, not just have people tell me how great I am when I do shitty stuff.

  12. Dec 28, 2009

    @Stefanie, Yes, thank you — that’s it exactly. The action does happen all the time, it is crappy but it’s not unheard of. It’s the fact that this is something we should celebrate that I find repugnant. Imagine what we would do to the person if the blogger was the wronged wife? The very same people would be singing a totally different tune right now.

    Blogging is supposed to be about having a voice, isn’t that what they always say? How about that voice exercises some critical thinking now and then?

  13. Dec 28, 2009

    @marybeth, there are at least three negative comments that I know of that haven’t gone through. I think negative comments are kind of like cockroaches — for every one you see there are like ten hiding in the woodwork.

  14. Dec 28, 2009

    @j.habersham I agree that there had to be problems in the marriage in the first place or else this would not have happened. This was the case with my parents, but I still find nothing worth celebrating here. If nothing else, how about some time in between relationships? And what about the guy Sweetney was in love with a few months back who offended people on MamaPop and then disappeared into the ether? Was it meant to be with him and this new guy at the same time? How did the logistics of that work out?

  15. Dec 28, 2009

    Sure, this stuff happens all of the time, that doesn’t make it right. That doesn’t make this a love story, it certainly shouldn’t augment the love story. She knows there are less than ideal circumstances surrounding the situation and yet that doesn’t stop her from celebrating this so publicly. I know and love lots of people who know and love Tracey, but I’m appalled by the collective reaction to this situation. It’s not a victory, for anyone.

  16. Dec 28, 2009

    I get the idea that you don’t always choose to have a feeling and maybe she had no intention of having this man leave his wife when he met her and yadda yadda. And I also get that once feelings like that develop, they are there, and that whatever marriage this man was in was probably not the best if this happened. My real beef here is publishing it for the world to see, as if his (ex?) wife didn’t exist and that this is all his and her story to own. Because it’s not.

  17. Dec 28, 2009

    There is a grand literary tradition celebrating this kind of thing, and I suppose that is part of it. But that doesn’t excuse people cosigning this stuff. Say nothing or disagree, I don’t see how you could justify any other response to this, frankly.

  18. Dec 28, 2009

    @slynnro, I’ve been told that the exwife doesn’t read the internet so I’m sure it will all work out fine in the end.

  19. Dec 30, 2009

    What happened to us all that we can’t call a spade a spade when it comes to marriage anymore? I don’t buy the “artists create their own moral universe” BS, either. There’s right and there’s wrong, and the “go with where emotions take you” types like Princess Jenn would be the first to acknowledge it if they were the wronged wife and if their children were the children sacrificed to what Anna reminds us is the second case of “true love” in as many months.

    Does everyone need a refresher from Philosophy 101 (or Logic or Ethics or whatever), that just because something exists (adultery, divorce, haircuts that are lost their hipster cred years ago, what have you) doesn’t make it OK.

  20. Dec 30, 2009

    @Eliz, yeah I was thinking the same thing. I keep getting met with that explanation (e.g. “nothing’s black and white,” “emotions are complicated” etc.) when I tell people about this in real life. And I’m like, really? Then why do we take marriage vows at all anymore? Why do we have children with a partner and commit to giving them a loving home? Why not dispense with all of these things if there’s a chance that one day, on a whim, we’ll decide that our destiny is somewhere else?

    If this was a case of abuse or something, or just a divorce because of irreconcilable differences, that would be one thing. But to cloud the issue with these other platitudes about love and lofty ideals and poetry, blagh.

  21. Dec 30, 2009

    I can live with people justifying stuff to themselves, and grey areas, and all of that. I just don’t get why people put it out there for everyone to see. I mean, even if it’s true love and whatnot…why cause the wife additional pain? Why put that out there for the kids to google in a couple of years?

    Be happy if that’s your thing, but don’t put stuff out there that is very obviously going to cause other people pain (and don’t act wronged when people object to stuff that is objectionable to a whole lot of people, even if it isn’t to you).

    I am just not big on the whole concept of putting everything out there for everyone to see, no matter who is harmed. That’s one big downside to the internet; it’s easy to feel like you’re the center of the universe and you live in a vacuum, but you don’t.

  22. Dec 30, 2009

    @Anna said: Then why do we take marriage vows at all anymore? Why do we have children with a partner and commit to giving them a loving home? Why not dispense with all of these things if there’s a chance that one day, on a whim, we’ll decide that our destiny is somewhere else?

    Exactly. Because here’s the thing, I’m sure when Tracey got married, she wanted her decision, her commitment, her union, to be taken seriously. As we all do. She, I’m sure, meant those vows. But now we’re being asked to give this relationship the same credibility?

    It’s hardly poetry she’s clouding the issue with (other than the Shakespearian reference to star-crossed lovers), it’s song lyrics. She’s acting like a teenager who’s way to old to be behaving this way.

  23. Dec 30, 2009

    I fear you’ve missed the point. Things do happen, but sweetney shouldn’t be censoring the comments. If she were really owning it, she’d take both the supportive and “unsupportive” comments.

  24. Dec 30, 2009

    I love the Internet.

  25. Dec 30, 2009


  26. Jen
    Dec 30, 2009

    Came here via http://www.tinksmom.com. It’s not any of my business, either, except to the point that she’s made it all our business by posting it. It’s the third or fourth time she’s been “in love” since she announced the split a year ago, and the last time it blew up, she made a huge self-pitying deal about not being able to share that part of her life on the internet any more. See how long that lasted … This is just all so sad. I’m in the middle of an awful divorce myself, and had talked with Tracey some this year about our situations and to offer my support … but clearly she doesn’t need support, she needs to be looooooved. Sigh. Seriously, jumping from marriage one week to a massive TWU WUV relationship the next is so not a mature and emotionally healthy decision. And playing it out on the internets is an even poorer decision. Sigh. We’ll be the bad guys, though, until the shit hits the fan and this relationship takes a dive just like her last three or four did, and then we’ll be supposed to pretend it never happened.

  27. Dec 30, 2009

    HA HA HA. Me too.

  28. Dec 30, 2009

    I just went back and read the herbadmother post that you linked to. So, wait, it’s okay for Sweetney (and her supporters) to critisise others, but no one is allowed to stand up and critisise them?

    I call bullshit. I don’t read Sweetney normally. She leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  29. Dec 30, 2009

    Alright, I’ve been reading and lurking for months (on/off) and I finally added you to my blogroll and decided to comment. I’m pretty certain that we’re going to see a Sweetney-Her Bad Mother post admonishing the entire internet (with obligatory lolcat speak, all caps and references to their pasts as “academics”) about how you need to own your voice, choose your choice and write your story [insert reference to Derrida here] at all costs blahblahblah. They both have a particular pattern of getting involved in internet dramz and then writing circular posts justifying their choices. Usually contradicting their earlier posts.

  30. Dec 30, 2009

    @monkeyinasuit, welcome! Happy delurking. I’d actually be excited to see a reference to Derrida in lieu of Nietzsche for once, but otherwise I think you are right, unless they stick to the new policy of not shining lights on the trolls. But we’ll see.

  31. Dec 30, 2009

    @veronica, well actually, that was why I was so happy to be able to find a quote from HBM on the topic, because it sort of shows how much we have in common and all want the same things for our community.


  32. Dec 30, 2009

    Gah and I just realised I spelt criticise wrong. Twice no less. I’m going to blame the heat and walk away shamefaced.

  33. Dec 30, 2009

    Actually Anna, she wrote a later post about how criticism is trolling and hemming and hawing that it doesn’t contradict her Fussypants dramz “We owe each other our critiques” post because of Foucault. Or maybe it was Plato. I was marginally impressed that she remembered to carve out an exception for herself.

  34. Dec 30, 2009

    @monkeyinasuit Aha! Interesting! A philosopher who actually cited Foucault? I thought he was like the bastard child of Philosophy and only literature people dealt with him. in any case, I shall have to seek this out, all of this happened before I came on the scene, so clearly I have some archives to peruse. Which is pretty Foucauldian, actually.

  35. Dec 30, 2009

    I’m being facetious about the Foucault! But her later post expressly said “I am not contradicting my community is hard post”-and of course, the reasoning was “becuz I am not kontradikting it, u r doing it rong trolls.” I wasn’t exactly blown away by the reasoning but it basically amounted to what one of your commenters upthread said-they can call people out and start internet drama but if anyone does it to them it’s interfering with their ability to structure their own narrative.

  36. Dec 30, 2009

    Hah! See, I didn’t get that it was a joke because, let’s face it, it could be true. I will still look around over there, at least until she figures out my IP address and blocks me.

  37. Dec 30, 2009

    Oh, so you’ve noticed the way literature people are constantly importing models from unrelated disciplines? Especially models that have very little honor in their own country? It’s because we’re intellectual whores. With ADD.

  38. Dec 31, 2009

    Poppy, I think I managed to combine Lacan, Derrida, Foucault, Laclau and like forty others in one paper at one point. People don’t understand what a gift it is. (I’m rolling my eyes at myself here)

  39. Dec 31, 2009

    I realize it is such a blowhard move to keep commenting on my own post, but when has this stopped me before?

    I was thinking about how when Marinka interviewed me for Neil’s Interview Experiment, she asked if I had a line where I wouldn’t cross into criticism and/or if there were things I felt were off limits to talk about critically. I think this is a good question here: where is the line? Am I being unfair to criticize a person’s life choice? Because when I answered her in that interview, i said I didn’t like to get into criticizing parenting choices or the way people live their lives, and yet here I am, casting judgment about how someone has chosen to live their life. (And how they choose to publicize it, I suppose, is the larger issue, but still.) I’m thinking about how and why I would feel this is different, and I guess it’s because I identify with the kids in the marriage, and I feel like it’s morally OK to argue this way for the sake of the kids. I’m not sure this is a justification that will hold up over time, but I guess that’s where I’m coming from, though it PAINS ME TO NO END to sound like Chickenliver.

    Here’s the thing, in this case, I felt like there was a moral transgression that was being applauded instead of questioned. So I spoke up. But for some people, homosexuality is a moral transgression, and what if they came and said so and got mad at people for applauding it? Would I not attack them with the wrath of Khan or whatever? So who is to say my morality is somehow better? I’m not a philosophy student, I don’t know the answers here, but maybe some of you have some theories.

  40. Dec 31, 2009

    Anna, I believe this is where the maxim, ‘Decry the behavior rather than the person’ comes in. I care about Charlie a great deal, he is someone I believe(d?) to be a very good friend. Since he’s made this personal choice I’ve been pretty much shut out by him, and I feel that severely limits my commentary on this issue. Without going into a great deal of detail that compromises confidences, I will say that I was led to believe that his spouse is awesome and his daughters are the center of his world.

    So yeah, I’m baffled.

    You’re right, this decision is being openly applauded, and by a few people that I have held in esteem in the limited situational and time frame wherein I’ve known them. I’ve been wearing a lot of stunned looks and shaking my head, saying, “I just don’t get it. I. Don’t. Understand.”

  41. Dec 31, 2009

    Oh, and? SERIOUSLY? Those people that are all “Bully for you, kids!”? Would they still exhibit that same flavor of open-minded exuberance were it their spouse who’d hopped a bus to Never-Never Land?

    Are they even considering that aspect of things?

  42. Mary Beth Britt
    Jan 19, 2010

    Look! A brand new love story from Sweetney. http://www.sweetney.com/sweetney/2010/01/good.html I’m not even gonna bother commenting because the last time I did, her married-with-children-boyfriend likened it to me coming into her office and shitting on her desk (and yes, those are the words he used to describe my honest feedback). Because that’s what she does for a living: she writes.

  43. Kali
    Mar 7, 2010

    I would ALMOST feel bad for Sweetney because she has had her words minced apart and had so much inferred from her actions, or when a mean photoshopped photo of her child was put up on a website. ALMOST.
    ALMOST, because she has dished mean behavior out herself. She has: sent trolls out to another person’s weblog to attack them (you know, you can see what links your website hits are coming from)… this blogger who never left a negative comment on her site, never publicly attacked her but had a personal beef with her because of one of her friends. And, then publicly, on her blog, attacked at least 2 former blogger friends of hers. One she accused of imitating her too much. I wonder if they are still in her archives.
    Fast forward to Feb. 2010…. she has a pity party about how the internet is treating her and now she is whining about how things have changed and how it’s a much crueler, colder internet. Give me a break.
    If you seek to be a public media figure, like she so obviously does, you open yourself up to criticism. She should know — she and all the writers on her mamapop website spend hours picking celebrities apart. And if you dish it out, you should be able to take it. And have balls enough to post commenter’s minor critiques on your website.

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