I don’t blog about blogging very often – it’s just too meta. But blogging for me is essentially wearing my chronic illness on my sleeve and anyone who has ever done that in any form knows that it’s a risky business. I strongly urge you to be open anyway, because for every negative experience I promise you’ll have a meaningful, positive impact on someone else who’s suffering, whether you find out about it or not. We all need to know we’re not alone.
But like I said – bad stuff will happen. Coworkers, friends, and even family will make snide remarks, try to tell you it’s all in your head, or worse. And while the majority of the time these things are said with good intentions, they still sting.
Then of course, there are things said with the intent to wound, and those sting too. They’re a bit easier to shake off, though, at least to me. I’ll never forget my first “flame” comment. “Flaming” or “Trolling” are internet terms for users who comment with the intent to provoke, often using profanity and personal insults. The term “Don’t feed the trolls” comes from the idea that if someone directly opposes what you post in a volatile and argumentative way, the best course of action is to do nothing. They’re trying to get a response and you can only win by not responding.
My first flame comments were all from one user, and I didn’t even see them until months after I received them because they were so saturated with curse words that wordpress automatically put them in the spam folder, which I rarely empty and even more rarely actually read. I remember thinking it was funny because they kept writing comments like “Why won’t you show my comments you **** *****? ***** coward only post ***** who agree with you *************.” No my friend, you got yourself marked as spam, I didn’t do a thing.
Of course I still deleted them – who am I to disagree with the almighty spam block? Plus this is a family internet, if your comments are crude for no reason I won’t display them.
But things get a little less amusing when comments come from long time readers or worse, friends in real life. I’ve written before about the reader who wrote to let me know they were unfollowing me because of OTHER commenters, not my content. Still kind of funny since it made no sense, but now it stung a little – this person was actually a top commenter, and someone I felt was a friend.
But by far the least amusing and most hurtful string of comments and messages came from a recent post I did. A post that, if you look at the comment section, was very well met and popular. The outward appearance would suggest nothing but agreement, and that’s not because I hid any comments or anything like that – the flames all came in private message form – actually, on my personal facebook and in text messages. Because they were all from family and friends.
What topic could cause such backlash and hate from friends and family? Talking about the Family Reunion. Yes, it was heresy. How dare I put into writing jokes that we all made in person?!
Because nothing quite says “YOU ARE NOT ONE OF US” like the double standard that we can make jokes but you can’t.
And yes, even though I constantly made references in THAT VERY POST about how my by-blood family reunions were just as boring and awkward, I got no backlash from my flesh and blood.
Anyway, it’s all said and done, I’ve been defriended en masse and I’m sure the holidays this year are going to be just lovely. I have no defense for myself, it was a joke and a sentiment that clearly many people share. And like I said, I got a lot of my material from the very people who have decided we can’t even be facebook friends anymore. I’m baffled.
And I would have stayed baffled and probably never have written this post if it stopped there. But it didn’t. For some reason, friends and family just ripped in to me for that post. And though I made no response, fueled no fire and fed no trolls, they kept going after me. The messages didn’t stop, they were relentless. People decided they needed to set me straight and maybe by some tough love could help cure my anxiety.
Ah yes. Nothing makes me feel at ease like being viciously attacked for being different and being myself.
I would almost say this has never happened to me before, but it has. I just couldn’t place it because I’m an adult now. But it had all the hallmarks of high school drama and bullying. Not only the relentlessness, but the choosing of sides, the gossip, the non-sequiturs, and the unfiltered hatefulness. Isn’t that what being an adult is? Filters? Civility? Restraint?
Well, apparently not. Here’s a sprinkling of backlash and “help” from family and friends.
(Note: some of these were sent as texts to my husband, but I happened to be on his phone troubleshooting something for him at that exact moment in time. Surprise! If you text someone about someone they’re likely to be with, you know, like their WIFE, it’s not the most secure method of communication.)
If you find yourself asking a question like that, just defriend them. Clearly you don’t think of them as a real “friend.”
Now my unborn children are involved!
Also, I made the mistake of writing that I had really bonded with someone at the reunion, but according to that person and everyone else on earth, our bonding experience was fabricated. And even though I did talk to them about my plans for this post poking fun at the whole idea of family reunions, everyone agrees I never asked express permission to write about the good times or the bad. Again, it’s all very reminiscent of high school, I don’t really know what to think.
Of course, people were offended by a variety of things.
And like I said, most of these texts were to my husband, and one person even admitted they just needed to rant about me. To the person who vowed to love me so much that they went through a big costly ceremony that was just basically saying “she’s my favorite human – I’m on her side 5ever.
And then there was, of course, the “helping…”
And yeah, I noticed the spelling, but being a typo nazi won’t win me any points so no jokes on that.
WHOA WHOA WHOA WHAT. WHAT. NO. Just this year I drove halfway across the US to spend a weekend with someone I’ve never even MET. I let a ROBOT perform surgery on me. I BOUGHT A HOUSE AND MOVED AWAY. LIFE is outside of my comfort zone!
But that aside, don’t you think my doctor might let me know if I could be cured by “pushing myself?”
Thank you Hyperbole and a Half – one less that I have to draw.
Now. Let me be perfectly crystal clear – the person who said this is a good person who I love very much. I don’t believe they have a mean bone in their body. I know they speak in earnest.
I know they also didn’t know that pregnancy is the only treatment that has even a sliver of a chance of getting rid of endo instead of just putting it in remission.
And they didn’t know that I was just diagnosed with PCOS, a form of infertility.
And they didn’t know that I’ve always wanted to have kids and now I’m coming to terms with the fact that maybe that’s not in the cards. Which not only means I might not have kids but I also might never be healthy.
And there’s even more that’s happened that I haven’t even had a chance to process enough to write about it.
And there was no way for her to know that.
But there’s no way for anyone to know any of that.
Which is why that’s something you should never say to anyone. Ever.
Like I said from the very beginning – this is the risk you run by sharing your story. People will, knowingly or not, really hurt you. But really, that will happen no matter what. Working in an industry dominated by men I hear a lot of ignorant things about how selfish it is to have kids and stuff like that, and they have no idea I even have endo, much less anything with a direct correlation to infertility like PCOS.
I know that every time I write, there are people out there reading. People who needed to hear something, and maybe they got to hear it from me. I’ve had people recognize me on the street and tell me about their health and their fears, I’ve had friends text me when they need to have some medical testing or procedure done and they’re scared, and I’ve even had businesses and schools contact me for help with being accessible and understanding to the 1 in 2 people with a chronic illness.
So in the end, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing because the positives are worth it. And the more people who share their stories and help eachother, the less hate, ignorance, backlash, and risk there will be.