Good evening, friends. This is going to be a really short blog compared to what I normally write (and what’s to come, OH MY LORDY) but I feel profoundly inspired to write this post RIGHT NOW.
I have been having a private conversation off and on today via e-mail with a young girl (aged 17) who has been reading my art blogs for a little while and made her way to my grief blog. I didn’t know she existed until she e-mailed during the night last night and I read her e-mail this morning, but I was…so grateful that she e-mailed me, because I was able to share something with her that I had experienced about exactly what she was going through and I want to quickly share it with you and tell you something that I think we all need to recognize and hear once in a while.
First, here’s my experience: A couple of years ago, when I was on Facebook, I had this friend who had opinions. That’s fine, in and of itself. Specifically, this person had opinions about me. That’s fine, too. Everybody has an opinion about everybody. However, what’s not fine is that there came a point where they seemed to only comment on my posts when they had something negative or hurtful to say. When they wanted to insult me. When they wanted to disagree with me. When they wanted to dig me. When they wanted to slice me open.
Eventually I accepted it that it had NOTHING to do with me, but what it took for me to do that was a heartbreaking series of comments on a post I made where not only did I find myself defending myself against a complete lie and false judgment, but realized that many other people were coming to my defense, as well. I even got a series of private messages from people I didn’t really even know saying, “we’ve been friends here for a while, and I’ve noticed that this particular person ONLY ever has anything to say on your posts if it’s something negative. For the record, this person is ALSO the only person who is seeing the negativity that they are complaining about or insulting you with. Why do you allow this person to be active on your profile?”
Well, I don’t know – I was blind to it. Why? Because I wanted to please this person SO MUCH, because I believed this person mattered so much more in the world than I did, that I would allow them to say or do anything to me and all you would ever find me doing was defending their behavior to other people by saying, “you don’t know them, they’re going through a really tough time,” or, “it’s just the way they are, they’re my friend.”
Here’s the thing: they WEREN’T being a friend. People do what they feel they need to do. Maybe in their hearts and minds they DO sometimes think they’re being a friend, when in reality they’re not the friend you need. Sometimes they’re just not aware or capable of seeing you for who and what you are, and that’s not your fault. Most of the time, they’re just people in their own pain, and they’re bitter and angry and afraid. In this instance, while it was true that they were going through a tough time, I was going through a really tough time, too. I couldn’t see that because my heart was always more worried about other people than myself. This was the time in my life when I learned to start letting that go and to take care of myself.
My father had just died. My best friend was dying of cancer. My dog was dying. My marriage was in a rough spot. I was about to have to move out of my home. My mom and I were sliding into a living hell with each other, and I might have to go live with her. I didn’t want to. I was terrified, and alone, and panicky, and lost, and grieving. My life was falling apart, or so it felt. This person’s rough time wasn’t any more important than mine, despite the fact that at the time I believed it was. There is no “my rough time is worse than yours,” or, “their rough time is more difficult and important than mine.” Suffering is suffering, and it’s something we all face in our lives, regardless of the types or the reasons.
I believe that when we are suffering, when we are in pain, when we are hurting, that is the time that we need to be especially kind to others and to the world, because that’s is the time when we NEED those things the most and we attract into our lives what we express out of ourselves and into the world. All I tried to share and write during that time was about holding on to my faith (which clearly I struggled with), positive thoughts, hopeful thoughts, etc. After Dorie died, well, things got pretty dark for me. But during the time that this happened, I was just doing my best to hold on and be strong and get through it all. Yet, every time I turned around there was what began to feel like some ridiculous personal vendetta against me from this person. After that last experience, where I felt so much shame and lack of worthiness of all these people coming to my defense, I realized something – and that’s what I want to share with you today, what I shared with this young girl who was facing something very similar on her Instagram account today:
IT IS NOT YOU. Think about it this way: if nearly everybody you know, and who knows you, is telling you that you are a horrible person, that you hurt people, that you are selfish, that you are greedy, that you are ugly, that you have an ugly heart, that you basically suck and they hate you, then MAYBE you should look at whatever the consensus is about you and see what kind of work you need to do on yourself. If nearly EVERYBODY you know and who knows you is seeing this problem with you, maybe you need to acknowledge that there might be a problem and do some work on yourself, and make amends with those people.
On the other hand, if ONE PERSON – and a person who doesn’t even know you, at that (whether because they refuse to or because they’re just a random troll) – is feeding that kind of stuff to you, please don’t give it a second thought. IT IS NOT YOU. It is merely a projection of themselves, and for whatever reason – be it because they are jealous of you, or envious of you, or having a rough time, or are just butt hurt about something, or because they are in deep pain – they are lashing out at you and it’s not nice and it’s not something you are required to put up with. Pain is understandable, and something we should treat with compassion. When it comes to how someone in pain treats us, that’s not always the case.
That’s about them, and it’s on them. It’s not you, so don’t you listen to it, especially if you’re also in pain and already struggling with doubts and sadness. Don’t allow someone else to create bitterness or more doubt in you, and especially not to control your mind – what you think about yourself, what you say to yourself, how you treat yourself, what you think about the world, how you interact with the world… Don’t give one hater that much power over you or your life. YOU are the person in control of your life. You get to choose what to do with yourself and your abilities and talents, your dreams and your goals, the tools and resources you have, etc.
So please, please don’t spend your days or nights crying or being broken hearted or being hurt by some ridiculous behavior that in reality makes only one person look foolish and bad – the person who is attacking you. Forgive them, protect yourself from future attacks, and move on if at all possible. It took me far too long, far too many tearful moments, far too many lashes to the heart, to figure that out – in fact, it took a lot of people finally getting upset over the incident I mentioned above and confronting me and saying, “you have GOT to put an end to this – this person is abusing you,” before I would accept it and let it go – and I don’t want that for you.
If you have a hater or a troll that is causing you grief and hurt, I hope that this post helps you to realize that you deserve better. Because you do. You deserve better. If you’re not an adult and you are facing online bullying, please go to those people in your life that you can trust – parents, teachers, etc. – and ask them to help you if you need help. If you’re an adult dealing with something similar to this, make a choice to put yourself first and find out what you need to do to protect yourself if the person won’t leave you alone. You do not have to be nice to people who are not nice to you. The golden rule works both ways. Please, allow yourself the gift of self-love, self-respect, and self-confidence to find a way to protect yourself.
You deserve better. You deserve kindness. You deserve love.
All the love,