I may be completely naive or hopelessly optimitistic but I, for one, believe him.

I watched Tiger Woods’ public mea culpa, like millions of others,  expecting to come away cynical about what he had to say.  He is, afterall, a man who had lost his wife and his squeaky clean reputation and lots and lots of money.  He had plenty to gain by saying the right words and striking the right tone.  In our soundbite, quick-fix, low-attention-span world it might have been easy for the world’s greatest golfer to make his apologies and get back on the links and to his t.v. endorsements and for us to forgive him for being human and move on to the next big scandal.

Tiger could have simply confessed to his indiscretions, apologized to his wife and his sponsors and his fans, claimed he was ‘cured’ by his 45 days in rehab, headed back to the tour and been done with it.  But for me, what made the difference, the reason I believe him, is that he didn’t do that at all.  Instead, he announced he’s headed back to rehab.  To finish what he started. To really mean it.

Think about it.  How much easier would it have been for Tiger to cut his losses; to end things with his wife and live life as a divorced man where nobody would care how many women he slept with in a given week.  The world would eventually forgive and forget and once he was back winning majors again sponsors would be lining up to have him hock their products.

But Tiger chose a different path.  The hard path.  Don’t forget,  this is a man who is used to heavy lifting.  He didn’t become the world’s most famous athlete by taking the easy road.  He’s used to hard work.  Which is exactly what it’s going to take to put his marriage back together. 

In his statement, Tiger Woods’ revealed that his wife, Elin, told him the only way to prove to her that he is truly sorry for the pain he caused will be over time.  To never cheat again.  To be faithful to her and his vows.  To be the man we all thought he was.  She’s right.  Press conferences and prepared statements will never accomplish what can only be done, steadily, over time.  He closed by saying that he hoped the rest of us could all find it in our hearts to one day believe in him again.

 There’s no doubt in my mind that if he wants to, Tiger Woods can come out of this one day as a role model for young people that will have far greater, deeper implications than how many tournaments he won or how rich he became.  A man who fell from grace but who admitted his wrongdoings, asked for forgiveness, and worked like heck to prove he could be a better man.  That would be something to see. That  would be a life for young people, for all of us, to immulate.  And I, for one, will be rooting for him to do just that.

It was a good day to be a tabloid publisher.  You gotta know you’re going to sell newspapers when one famous guy admits he’s the father of a long-denied love child and another gets photographed (allegedly) at a clinic for sex addiction.  All in one day.  That’s good stuff. If you’re in the tabloid business.

For the rest of us, it’s either great fodder for the watercooler or something to think about in our own lives, and probably both.

I’m struct by the similarities between the stories of Tiger Woods and John Edwards.  Both had torrid affairs, (multiple dalliances for Tiger and one we know of for Edwards) hurt their wives, damaged their children, and had a propensity to deny any of it ever happened.

But here’s the thing that intrigues me, the thing you have to wonder:  Would either man have come forward and admitted his extremely bad behavior had he not been caught?  Me thinks not.

Had Tiger not gotten whacked (again, allegedly) with a golf club by his outraged wife and had Edwards’ former aide not been about to release a tell-all book, they’d probably both still be living in the city of denial.  That’s sad.

It’s sad because redemption and healing can only come when the guilty party comes clean…and not only comes clean but is truly, truly sorry for his actions and the hurt he has caused.  Of course, God is the only one who can really judge whether someone is truly, truly sorry but God’s in the business of gauging these things.  He’s all about forgiveness, He does it a zillion times a day,  and I’m sure just  loves it when one of use recognizes the bad we’ve done and wants Him to love us anyway.

There’s been a lot of talk about the wives in these stories, Elizabeth and Elin.  And there should be.  They are the ones who’ve been betrayed.  They are the ones these guys said vows to.  And maybe one day both women will be able to forgive their husbands, whether or not they stay married. 

But at the end of the day what’s most important is how Tiger and John Edwards move forward from here.  True healing will only happen when they can get on their knees and say, ‘You know what God? I screwed up. I screwed up big time. I hurt a lof of people and I’m sure I hurt you.  And truthfully, I”m glad I got caught because now I can honestly face what I’ve done.  I know there’s power in forgiveness and I’d like to tap into some of  that.  Forgive me. Help me to forgive myself.  Help those I hurt to forgive me.  I want my new life to begin today, right now, and all the horrible things that I’ve done to be wiped clean.”  (We Christians believe that’s only possible thru the blood of Christ.)  They say that and really mean it and it’s done. Done.  God will not only forgive them, but give them the power to move on.

We may see Tiger back on the Tour this Spring and chances are his career will survive this.  John Edwards’ political career may be over but he’s a smart guy and will no doubt come back in some form.  We may never know what happens in their hearts, between them and God.  Or then again, we proably will. Being famous guys I predict hefty book deals down the road.  We can only hope for sincere transparency.  After all, enquiring minds want to know.

First off, let me just say that this Tiger Woods story makes me really sad.  Sad for his wife, for his kids, for him, and for us.  Every time you think it’s winding down, that there can’t possibly be any more women coming forward, here comes another.  And now, if 14 (as of this writing) alleged mistresses weren’t enough, comes the arrest of Tiger’s doctor, leaving new questions about the world’s greatest athlete.  Who knows what’s next?

So with all of that swirling around, here are my random thoughts.  I’d love to hear yours.

I think this has shaken the world because for so long, Tiger has been the one professional athlete, the one mega-star, to have appeared to have held firm against the temptations that so often come to of ultra-successful, the famous and the insanely wealthy.  He wasn’t just the guy with unmatched God-given golf prowess and inhuman focus and drive…he was the guy who loved his mom and dad, who said  family would always come first, who held his head down and stayed on proper course.  In the end, we’re sad, because Tiger ended up being just like the rest of us.

Forgiveness.  In our private thoughts aren’t we all wondering it it were us in wife, Elin’s shoes, could we forgive such flagrant abuse?  If it were me, I could probably could have forgiven my husband’s indiscretion with one woman,  maybe even two, but once he got past that and certainly once he hit double digits I think I’d be all out of forgiveness.  

To those pundits who’ve speculated on whether Tiger has a “‘sex addition….” Give me a break!  Why must we always do the politically correct thing and not call things what they are!  Tiger’s a cheater and it wasn’t some illness that caused it.

So what did cause it?  My guess is he finally bought into all they hype.  “The Great Tiger Woods,” the greatest golfer the world has even know, perhaps the greatest athlete ever, a gazilionaire where nothing was out of his reach.  It was ARROGANCE that caused his fall, pure and simple.  If he wanted a romp on the road, heck, if he wanted a bunch of romps on the road, he was Tiger Woods,  he could have whatever he wanted.

But was he that  arrogant to assume he’d never get caught?  Did it not occur to him that one of these women might blab, or some hotel maid might see them?  Or that any of those people might like to get a hefty payoff or their 15 minutes by going to the media?  He’s lived in celebrity long enough to know that cameras and inquiring minds are everywhere.  Which makes you wonder if he even cared if he got caught.

What about his endorsements?  Should his golfing skills and title wins be enough to sell products? Or should a pitchman (woman) be someone with consumers can also look up to as human beings?  I hope we haven’t gotten to the point in our culture where being a great athlete is enough to sell products.  I hope advertisers see the bigger picture.  The guy on the Wheaties box should be someone we’d like our children to grow up to be.

I’m curious how the guy managed to play such great golf all these years with all that fooling around on the road.  Surely the  conniving and plotting and sneaking around and lying to his wife was exhausting.  It’ll be interesting to see what exactly (if anything) that doctor of his was prescribing.

Of course, all of those are incidental issues, aren’t they?  Tiger’s career, his endorsements, his blood count.  What really is at the heart of this is the same thing that we normal women (and men) encounter every day:  a spouse you love who isn’t faithful.  And in Elin’s case, isn’t faithful a lot…and for the whole world to see.

The biggest parlor game going is the will she stay with him or won’t she?  Everybody has a guess.  Usually when you hear the game being played it centers around money.  That’s sad.   Look, she’s never going to have to worry about paying rent for the rest of her life.  It’s not about whether she gets a million or whether she gets 300 million…it’s about whether she can forgive her husband, live with what he’s done, and build a new life together.  She might be able to forgive him if he’s truly contrite.  But if it were me, every time he walked out the door with his golf bag I’d be wondering where he was going.

And, I’ve got to say something about these “other women.”  Why is it that women hurt each other?  Why is there no female solidarity?  Not one of Tiger’s alleged mistresses had sex with him oblivious to the fact that he was married.   He’s the most famous athlete on the planet!  Of course they knew he had a wife and children back home.  Yes, Tiger is the one who betrayed Elin—he’s the one who made vows to her—but these other women betrayed her too.  This may sound corny, something you’d say to your 8 year old, but it really is this simple:  Would they want another woman sleeping with their husband one day?

What happens next will be more interesting to me than what’s come out so far. Will their marriage survive?  Will Tiger’s career survive?  How will corporate America respond?  Will the public ever embrace their beloved Tiger again?  Whatever happens will be a telling commentary on life in America today.  It’ll say a lot about the Woods family, yes, but it’ll also say a lot about us.

(Thanks to everybody for your concern and prayers…hopefully this will explain.)

When you write a book about the heartbreaking, humiliating experience of being left at the altar, complete with advice on how to get over it and move forward, you better be darn sure you practice what you preach.  Otherwise, you’re a fraud, an opportunist who only wrote what you thought other people wanted to hear in some phony attempt to make something positive out of something negative—lemonade out of lemons.  In other words, to make yourself feel better.

Lately I’ve been wondering if I am, indeed, a fraud.  In the past few months since my book came out, scores of women (and men) have written me telling me how much my story has meant to them—how they dog-eared pages, underlined sentences, and re-read it several times over because they had gotten so much hope from it.  They would then, inevitably, tell me how good my ‘advice’ was, how they had taken it to heart, were practicing it in their own lives.  You’d think it would feel good to hear that, and it did up until three months ago.  Trust me, it doesn’t feel so good once you think you’re a fraud.

At the end of June, I unfortunately, became intimately acquainted with another type of rejection. I was fired.  For the past 8 years I have produced, written, and hosted a t.v. show on the ABC affiliates in Atlanta, Orlando, and Charlotte which did so well right out of the gate (and up against Saturday Night Live, no less) that a syndicator sold us as a weekly news and entertainment show in nearly every top ten market. (The deal fell thru at the last minute when my station’s owner decided against it.)  The point is, the show was popular and successful despite the fact we had basically no staff or resources, something I was pretty proud of.

I thought the station was proud of that too.  So you can imagine the shock when they called me in out of the blue, with no warning (and that would include good ratings and glowing reviews) to tell me they were letting me go.  In light of the current economic climate I wrongly interpreted the ax-ing to mean they were canceling the show.  Nope, they were only canceling me.

It didn’t take long for the station to hire my replacement.  A woman half my age (and I’m guessing half my salary) with skills (I’m told) befitting her lack of numerical maturity.

Was I bitter?  You better believe it.  Bitter, angry, hurt, you name it.  In one fell swoop, the early years of barely making any money, carrying a camera (in heels) in the miserable, middle Georgia heat, the decades of working weekends and holidays, the missed time with my family, the stress of ratings and changing news directors—suddenly had no purpose.  This was the job I did  all that for, what I had sacrificed for, my dream job with a good salary, no weekends or holidays, no murders or fires, just a fun, creative, interesting culmination of a hard-fought career.  I had earned that job.  And not afraid to say it.

Which brings me to why I”m wondering if I’m a fraud.  If I’m bitter and angry, does that mean I don’t really believe  what I wrote in my book—all the things I claimed  I had learned about myself, about God, and about getting over the horrible feelings of rejection?  Wasn’t I the one who wrote “Rejection’s rejection no matter how it happens?”  See what I mean?  Fraud.

You see, a woman who meant what she said—that God can bring purpose out of every rejection—would be able to trust that and wait expectantly, excitedly even, for what lies ahead, no matter how unknown.  But I couldn’t.  The Enemy just kept reminding and reminding me of the mortgage that would be due every month, with no obvious way to pay it.  Those thoughts would turn to anxiety and fear and probably a little depression and pretty soon I got thinking maybe I should give all those people who bought my book a refund.

And then,  the other day I remembered someone is watching.  Someone who had just been born when I was left at the altar all those years ago.  Reed, my niece was watching, old enough now to travel with me thru this latest life-altering journey.  What would she see?  What would she learn about God?  What lessons for her own life would she take away?  Would I be someone to be admired—or pitied?

And so, I have decided to put on God’s full armor (see Ephesians 6, it’s really great imagery) and defend myself against the Enemy’s attacks.  I’ll reject the lies that I”m too old, too tired, too beaten down to start over yet again.  Instead, I’ll cling to God’s truth that He has a purpose and a plan for my life to give me hope and a future.  I don’t have any illusion it’ll be easy, but heck, I wrote a  whole book about it, it must have worked for me once.

So the question is:  Can I practice what I preach?  Can I pick myself up after this newest rejection and move forward and have the great life God intended?  I better.  A 12 year old girl is watching.

The first thing I learn from watching The Bachelorette is that it appears that no one under thirty-five these days can complete a sentence without using the word ‘like.’  And not the word that goes in a sentence such as “I like watching other people date on t.v. reality shows.”  It’s another word ‘like’ that younger people use a lot for no apparent reason.  I say all that simply to get it off my chest because I actually found myself  counting how many times the Bachelorette and her suiters used it.  I missed an entire scene because I was counting.  Clearly I need to get back to my book on Lincoln.

But on to the weighter things which I’ve noticed about men and women and dating and, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

First, I’ve decided that single men and women aren’t really so different.  First, there are the typical ‘types,” you see it in men and women all the time.  There’s’ the player, the one who’s sincere, the nice one, the bad one,  the one with the looks, the one with the sex appeal or the one you’d rather just be your buddy, the one who has it ‘all,’  the one who just wants to ‘win,’ and on t.v. reality shows, the ones who want to have their 15 minutes. Everybody, men and women, falls into one of those categories.  What’s fun about seeing this play out on t.v. is watching the Bachelorette (Jillian) decide who goes into what category, especially since she doesn’t see what we viewers see.

Second, what’s truly heartening, as a woman who hears from lots of women who think men don’t take this stuff as seriously as we do, is that (most) men do hurt when they get rejected by someone they like.  Every single one who gets ‘voted off’ by the Bachelorette seems truly sad.  But what’s worth noting is how differently the rejected men process it. (And those of you who watch The Bachelor will know what I’m talking aobut.)  When the women get dumped by the Bachelor nearly every single one will cry and mention how ‘This always happens’ to her and wonder ‘What was wrong’ with her, and lamenting how she’ll ‘always be alone.’  The men, on the other hand, don’t see it that way at all.  They say things like ‘She’s really missed out,” or “She’s made a really bad decision not to keep me,” or “I’m a great catch.”   I wish women could be so confident.

The third thing I’ve learned by watching The Bachelorette is that most men seem to want the same thing women do.  To find “the one.”  (However I WISH they’d all quit saying how they want to find the one to ‘spend the rest of (their) life with,” but I think they know that’s what Jillian wants to hear.)  And, I may be completely naive, but I think most of them mean it.  (Except for that country music singer.  A teenaged girl who’s never been on a date could see what he’s there for.)  It makes me feel good to see men allowing themselves to be so vulnerable and to be able to say out loud and on national t.v. that they want to…okay…find someone to spend the rest of their life with.

Finally I’m left with the most obvious observation of all.  When it comes right down to finding ‘the one’  is all about a chemistry between two people that nobody, no viewer, can predict or understand.  How many times have I gone on a blind date with somebody who my friend thought was just perfect for me, somebody she just knew I would like…only to have one of the worst dates of my life!  Happens to people all the time.  And being in television I know there is lots of stuff happening that we’re not seeing on t.v. , lots of conversation and interraction left on the cutting room floor. Which is why when Jillian kicked off Juan but kept that guy with the foot fetish, we sit at home and scratch our heads.  We don’t get it.  But Jillian does. And that’s the point of love.  It doesn’t have to make a bit of sense to anybody else why we love the one we do, it only has to make sense to us.  That’s the mystery and magic of it all.  That’s the way God intended it.  And that’s why it’s so fun to watch—because it’s so unpredictable.  And so affirming that this “love” thing is working exactly as it’s supposed to.

I’ve now seen about a half dozen television and published interviews with
Elizabeth Edwards as she promotes her new book “Resilience”  and have so many thoughts I would really love to hear what other women are thinking.

Just to catch everybody up, the wife of the former Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards has written a book in which she describes what she went thru when she found her husband had had an affair.  We learn that he initially told her it was a one-night-stand, which is why she not only stood by him when he announced his candidacy, but whole-heartedly campaigned for him. (all, by the way, while waging her personal battle with cancer) She then writes that he later came clean, admitting to a full-fledged affair, an affair that appears to have produced a child.

My first reaction to her interview on Oprah and the subsequent interviews was that it seemed a little too soon to write about the whole thing. It took me years to process my being left at the altar to the extent I could look at it objectively and honestly.  There’s no way I could have written about it within two years of it happening.  Elizabeth seemed to me to still be hurting and still to be trying to navigate the choppy waters of their now-shaky marriage.  She did not appear to be a woman healed and feeling whole and healthy following such a betrayal.  It also seemed really, really weird (if any of you saw the Oprah interview) to have John there at the house while she did the interview, looking like a little boy who was in a whole lot of trouble with his parents.

Which led me to my second thought, which was why write this now? Why spend all that time writing and promoting a book now while she, admittedly, has no idea how much time she has left in her fight with cancer? The couple has young children at home, children, who no doubt have access to the internet and can read all the stories (the true ones and the gossipy ones) about their parents.  Not to mention the things they probably hear from other kids at school. What happened to their mom and to their family was painful enough.  But why expose the story to the world and leave the kids so exposed themselves?

Yes, I understand that the Edwards are public people. And the world is interested in them.  I also understand that in telling her story HERSELF, Elizabeth can take a little control in what’s said about her and her marriage and her family. That, I get.

But I couldn’t help wondering if in writing this book so soon, way before she’s had time to properly heal herself and her marriage, that Elizabeth wasn’t in some way, even unconcsciously, trying to punish and humiliate John for his betrayal.  Think about it.  What’s the one thing that could hurt a man with an ego big enough to run for president?  Exposing him for what he is.  A cheater.  A cheater who cheated on his wife of 30 years, the mother of his children, a woman WITH CANCER.  A narcissist, bold enough to have an affair while the nation’s cameras were focused on him.  A coward, who when he did confess, couldn’t even look her in the eye and admit that it was an actual AFFAIR, not a one-time lapse of judgement.  And a man so selfish that he won’t even find out if the child the woman had is, in fact, his, and give that child an actual name, (there’s no father listed on the birth certificate!) an actual father.

Come to think about it. Forget what I said before. Maybe Elizabeth did the right thing afterall.   A little humility might be just what her husband needs before they can even begin to put their lives back together, something Elizabeth, seems to want.

Your thoughts?

When I was 12 years old we moved from the big city of Atlanta to the tiny town of The Rock, Georgia. Tiny may even be an understatement.  There were only 89 people there, so I’m truly not exaggerating.  Because it was so small we lived most of our lives in Thomaston, about seven miles away, a quiet mill town, complete with a town square and the Ritz theater.  A place where you really didn’t have to lock your doors, where Friday night high school football was a ritual, where children call women by their first name, preceeded by “Miss.”  I loved it immediately.

Throughout our young lives Thomaston supported me and my sister and brother. When I won the local Jr. Miss pageant, the convenience store put “Congratulations, Kim” on the marquee out front, right above the price of gas.  When my sister became Peach Bowl Queen there was a tiny brigade of people waiting in the freezing cold outside the local bank to welcome her home.  When we played tennis and won there were articles in the paper.

So, naturally, when it was time to promote my book about being left at the altar  Thomaston also showed up, even though I have long moved away.  Trisha, who owns  The Prescription Shop (bookstore in the back) called and invited me to come for a book signing.  I couldn’t wait.

There have been lots of such events in the month and a half since my book’s release.  All with wonderful people, all supportive and encouraging, but there really is nothing like going home.  Those were the people who knew you when you were an awkward teenager, an aspiring tennis player or writer or young person trying to find her place in the world, all while navigating the sometimes choppy waters of life.  They were the ones who may just have recognized something in you before you did.  Coming home to them, with my book in hand, was a proud moment, indeed.

They all showed up, my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Birdsong, my ninth grade science teacher, Mrs. Worsham, my mom’s old friends, Peggy and Sheila, who (naturally) brought homemade brownies and punch, and, of course, my childhood friends, like Sherry and Merry and Robin—women who were just as they were all those years ago, still warm and wonderful, funny and fun, and full of love.  After the signing we drove out to Piggy Park, the car hop barbecue joint that’s been there for more than half a century, the same place we went as teenagers when we first could drive.  Conversation happend like it had never ended. Picked up right where we left off twenty five years ago.  No trivial, casual banter—but talk about the heavy, the hard, the life-changing things that have made these women even more special, more amazing than they already were.

I took my twelve year old niece, Reed, to Thomaston that day. I wanted her to see, up close and personal, the people, the place, that made me and her mother who we are today.  I wanted this child of the city to see what small town America is and how it feels to be loved and nurtured and supported and encouraged by people who aren’t related to you and nothing to gain.  I think she saw it loud and clear.

As we hugged my friends goodby and drove out of Piggy Park on the road out of rural Georgia and back to the city we were both pretty quiet.  Finally she said, “Kiki, I wish our whole family could move to Thomaston. I like it there.”  My heart was so full and so happy that this child had “gotten it.”  So happy that she wasn’t so hardened by the big city, where life is frenetic and relationships disjointed, that even at twelve years old she could appreciate a place where kids still say ‘Yes ma’am,” and “No Sir.” 

I wish she could know a place like that in her own life.  But maybe I can do the next best thing…take her back there as often as possible, let her be with these people, and show her that our country still has quiet, still places.

I don’t know about you but lately it feels like all women are talking about is the bad guys. There’s Chris Brown and his alleged (brutal) beating of his “girlfriend,” Rihanna. There’s Jason, ABC’s Bachelor, scorned by women everywhere for dumping his fiance on national television.  And wherever I’ve been out speaking this week about my book, women have been sharing their own painful stories of rejection and the (awful) men who rejected them.

But one woman I met this week had a “man story” that I couldn’t get out of my mind. It was just so stunning, so hard to believe, that I’ve thought about it constantly since we met. No, her husband didn’t leave her, cheat on her, or beat her senseless. Quite the contrary. Leslie Ostrander’s husband is one of the good guys. Check that. One of the great guys.

But then Leslis is no ordinary woman. Since she was four years old Leslie’s been living her life from a wheelchair, paralyzed in a car accident from the chest down.  But that’s not the extraordinary thing about Leslie. What’s so exceptional is the way she’s chosen to lead her life. Not as a disabled  person, but a very able woman.  And that, was obviously very appealing to a man named Aaron.

Leslie met Aaron at a ski resort in Pennsylvania, where, get this, Aaron was a ski instructor for disabled people.  They immediately hit it off, began a long-distance relationship, (she lived in Atlanta, he in Virginia) fell in love, and married a year later.  Leslie said she knew Aaron was something special the first weekend they ever had a date. She had flown to Virginia , wheelchair and all, and when she arrived at his parents’ home, where she was staying, she found that Aaron had removed the framing and widened the bathroom door! And she was only staying for the weekend

That was only the beginning.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Leslie Ostrander never thought she’d ever marry. “What man would want to take this on,” she told me. Turns out, one did.  Aaron not only wanted to take her on, he took her on with gusto.  For the past ten years he has lifted her in her wheelchair up stairs and into cars and boats. He buttons her shirt and puts on her shoes. When they go out for long periods of time he puts on her back brace and her compression hose (we women can barely do that for ourselves!)  So concerned that Leslie live her life as normally as possible, he even takes her four-wheeling with their two young boys, strapping her to himself with a bungie cord. Even typing this makes my want to cry. (And find out if he has a brother.)

What Leslie wants other women to know is that yes, there are wonderful men out there.  She knows, she got one.  But she also wants you to know that she made Aaron work for her.  That probably will come as a shock to most “able-bodied’ women who will do just about anything to land a man and wouldn’t even dream of making him work to win her affection. But that’s exactly what Leslie did. Even as she sat there in her wheelchair, never to walk again, she knew she was someone to be loved and valued and pursued and so that’s what she made Aaron do—pursue her!   From that first weekend when he remodeled his parents’ bathroom Leslie knew that Aaron’s heart was big, he was a keeper.

I tell you all of this, ladies, because I want you to remember Leslie’s story. When you’re dating, look for a man like Aaron. If  you can’t picture him pulling on your pantyhose if you needed him to, move on. Never settle for less. I know I won’t.

—Kimberley

P.s. I’ve included photos of Leslie and Aaron and their little boys, Dylan and Clay. Aren’ they a beautiful family?

You can reach her—or Aaron– at her website, Leslie Speaksleslie-in-wheelchair

aaron_leslie2wedding-photo1leslie-and-family2leslie-aaron3

I realize this is ironic, coming from the woman who just wrote a book called “Left at the Altar,” but ladies, please, give Jason, the Bachelor, a break. Cyberspace is flooded today with so much anger and loathing for someone who did something, that, in my opinion, was pretty noble.

I’ve got perhaps one of the most unique perspectives on this a person could have. I’ve been in Melissa’s shoes and I can also understand Jason’s point-of-view, based on my own story.

First, not only can I imagine how Melissa’s feeling today, I know exactly how she’s feeling. Having your engagement called off and your heart broken by someone you love is horrible enough. But having it done so publicly is especially excruciating. She’s dealing with such sadness today coupled by the fact that the whole world saw the whole embarrassing thing. She can take some solice in the fact that she’s getting the better end of the internet chatter (same thing happend to me) which, hopefully is a little comfort.

But Jason is hurting today, too. Think about it. He could have done what every other Bachelor has done and called off the engagement after the cameras stopped rolling when no one was looking. Instead, he opted to stand up, be a man, end the relationship before things went any further, all while knowing the kind of public heat he was going to take. That took a lot of courage.

I had the same sort of public humiliation and heartbreak. At the time I couldn’t believe my fiance could have such bad timing. It took a long time to see this, but trust me when I tell you that I am so thankful today that he ended it at the altar rather than wait until after we were married. And one day, Melissa will be able to say that too.

The real winner in all this? ABC, which had unbelievable ratings Monday night. Proof, once again, that you can’t write stories better than what happens in real life.

So, I write this book called “Left at the Altar: My Story of Hope and Healing for Every Woman Who Has Felt the Heartbreak of Rejection,” expecting to hear all kinds of stories from women about failed relationships.  I’m getting those emails, but guess who else I’ve been hearing  a lot from? You guessed it…men. I just want to say to all the guys out there who’ve been sharing their own stories heartbreak that I”m sorry we excluded you from the title. You get hurt too and I think we females need to remember that.  Unfortunately we tend to think breakups don’t affect you like they affect us. Clearly, from what you’ve been telling me they do.

I actually devoted a whole chapter in the book to men. Not men who’ve been ‘dumped,’ but the men who do the ‘dumping.’ I needed to include it because of what I said above—that women have this (false) idea that you don’t get torn up about these things like we do.  I believe you do, to varying degrees, depending on how long the relationship was going on and how much you had invested in it. I just hope and pray that chapter sheds some light on what men are feeling when they end relationships, because women need to understand it so they don’t feel so icky. We all need to keep in mind, as one of the guys I interviewed said, we’re all trying to figure out this love thing together.

But tonight I”m talking about the men on the other end…the ones who’ve been rejected.  I just need to tell you that I get it. I know your hearts break just like ours do.  And I want you to know that the principals I talk about in the book that is marketed to women are equally as applicable to YOU. I want you to know all the amazing things I learned from my terrible experience, too! Yes, it may sound like  a ‘chick book.’ But as I told one man…just put a paper bag over the cover if you’re out in public.

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