Monica Lewinsky Speaks Candidly About Bill Clinton Affair and Joins Twitter, Amassing 35K Followers in 8 Hours

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Monica Lewinsky, the woman best known for an infamous affair with President Bill Clinton, spoke candidly Monday about the aftermath of the scandal.

Lewinsky, 41, spoke about the affair with Clinton at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia, including the blow the scandal caused to her self-esteem.

"Frankly, I came close to disintegrating. No, it's not too strong a word. I wish it were, but it isn't," said Lewinsky, tearfully. "A relentless mantra in my head: I want to die."

She recalled how her life turned upside-down after news of the affair broke.

"Overnight, I went from being a completely private figure, to a publicly humiliated one. I was 'patient zero' – the first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet."

According to Lewinsky, who now works on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment, she had to construct a separate mental reality to cope with the public display of her private life.

"During this period, I gradually came to realize that there were two Monica Lewinskys ... There was me, and there was public Monica Lewinsky," she said. "A somewhat curious character, constructed by political factions and the media. Constructed with a little fact, and a lot of fiction. My friends didn't know that Monica. My family didn't know that Monica. And this Monica, the real Monica standing here today, didn't know her either."

Lewinsky — who joined Twitter on Monday and amassed more than 35,000 followers in the first eight hours — first broke her decade-long silence about the affair in May, when she wrote an article in Vanity Fair, in which she said, "It's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress."

She detailed the days leading up to and following the scandal, and expressed some self-forgiving over her mistakes.

"I fell in love with my boss," she confessed. "In a 22-year-old sort of way, it happens. But my boss was the president of the United States. That probably happens less often."

Pam Wright

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