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Donna Jean Freberg Headshot

My Rielle-ity Check

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Within days of Rielle Hunter promoting her book coming out -- and her finally, freely, spouting her truth, her version of their journey together -- it's o-v-e-r? Now on so many levels I don't care one bit, one way or the other. Their lives, their movie. But as I sat watching her field hard questions (and feeling that human penchant to think she, of course on some level, deserved to be a wee bit raked over the coals) a few things came to mind. First of all, in the interviews I saw with her -- both before the weekend, and after -- it was so palpable how Rielle loved this man. Wholeheartedly, unconditionally -- almost blindly. Part of her motivation for writing her book it seems, besides money of course, was to defend him to anyone who would listen. As I watched her try and hold back her emotion as she tried to explain to Barbara Walters what had possibly happened between Friday and Monday to have caused them to break up, I felt for her. She had lost the one thing she had believed in the most--through all the madness and lies and deception -- him. And you could tell, she couldn't quite believe it, or understand it, herself. Hadn't it been her turn to defend and redeem herself, to tell her version... to, finally, wipe the egg off of her face by shouting from the roof tops what she believed would explain everything?

Apparently not. And it's so obvious where she went wrong. It's where so often times our human nature can take a bad turn by fooling ourselves into thinking we will feel better if we throw a few stones at those who have hurt us or made us look bad. Surely if we point out their faults, tell their secrets, throw them under the bus -- we will be vindicated. The truth -- our version of the truth -- will clear up everything. In reality, talking badly about others rarely fixes anything. And oh my god, talking badly about the dead is really never a good idea. There is something sacred about someone who has died, the unspoken consensus is -- let them rest in peace. Not to mention it ruffles our feathers that they can't defend themselves, it feels unfair. Remind me if I forget, it is never a good idea.

If I were writing Rielle's script, I might have had her say something like...

"We, as human being, are very complex, it is often very different than how it seems on the outside looking in. I've had to sit by for a long time and listen to everyone talking 'about' me, about Johnny"

(No, change that -- even if she calls him that when they are together, I would only have her call him 'John' when she is speaking of him in public to strangers, 'Johnny' sounds kind of creepy.)

"... about John and I and our child together, and that's been almost unbearable. I've wanted to say a lot of things, to right some wrongs, to paint a different picture of who I am, who he is, and who we are together. We've made a lot of mistakes, but we're not the only ones. There are many sides to every story, it is hardly ever just black and white, with one side being all good and one side being all bad. I hope you can keep that in mind when you are tempted to judge us and continue to write and say unkind things. I have to take responsibility for barging into a marriage and hurting others, including their children, and I have to live with that. I am truly sorry. As we all move forward, I hope they, the children, can forgive me, because I love John and our daughter more than anything in this world and hope that peace and reconciliation can find its way to us, as we try and get on with our lives."

Or something like that. I'm viewing this lesson from Rielle Hunter as the 'rielle reminder' which I hope serves to remind me to always take the high road. To remember that defending myself is always best when it doesn't include decimating someone else. That too much information of details I think will make me look better, rarely does, I only feel slightly dirty after. As a friend of mine said this week, "I had a revelation that I spent far too much time on my vacation gossiping and saying unkind things -- I came back exhausted." It wears us out to betray ourselves by speaking ill of others, even if we're technically right in our observations. Whenever we are mean we are losing something of the good in ourselves, and the irony is, the truth of someone's true character usually reveals itself without any help from us. And if it doesn't, so be it. I sometimes think of that line in the movie The Wizard of Oz when the evil Miss Gulch comes to take Toto away and Auntie Em is beside herself trying to talk her out of it and says something to the effect of, "I've waited 35 years to tell you just what I think of you... and now, well, being a Christian woman, I just can't say it." We should all take a hint and keep our mouths shut. Remember, in the end, the witch drowns in a half bucket of water in her own misery and sorrows.

I have no idea what happened between Rielle Hunter and John Edwards, and I don't want to know. But I do want to take away a lesson in this earth school moment, that we all weave a terrible web sometimes but it's what we do and how we behave as move on in life that really matters. Is there redemption, is there forgiveness, is there a way to be a better human being as we try and clean up our messes? I hope so. And it starts with humility and taking responsibility and choosing to act lovingly instead of justifying our actions. Or getting our point across. Even if somebody else's bad behavior came into play and may have affected the choices we made, better to just take responsibility for our sides of the street and leave it at that. Maybe, in hindsight, Rielle should have just written it as a fairy tale about their love, repented publicly for her own un-evolved, unloving behavior and just left it at that. I hate it that often times in order to supposedly get a book deal -- or sell a lot of books -- they make it seem like you have to trash somebody or tell lurid, one-sided tales that are better left alone. Rielle Hunter is not the first, and certainly won't be the last, author to discover that telling your truth that way, in the end, doesn't make you feel any better about yourself. And it certainly doesn't keep you warm at night.