Sometimes The Truth Hurts
Behold my absolute favorite quote about writing. Anne Lamott wrote it, and those words are like a superhero cape to me. I stumbled upon them long ago, when I felt the first pangs of something that resembled guilt. Someone, anonymously, of course, because that's how critics usually operate, berated me for having the gall to write about my life. For having the nerve to express my outrage and sadness over what had happened to me, and to my children. Four years ago, criticism hurt. Reading comments like that actually caused me physical pain, swear to God. A little "oof" in the gut. It gave me pause, caused me to question everything I'd done and everything I'd written.
Now, my skin is nice and thick. Thanks to a few of my essays going semi-viral on HuffPost, I was baptized by fire as far as taking criticism goes. Having complete strangers express their hatred for you does that, you know. And honestly, it's not a bad thing. If I am going to be a real writer when I grow up, being able to deflect negativity will probably come in handy.
But...I still want to address it now and then. Sometimes somebody will send an email or leave a comment here or on whatever site my work is posted on, and it will again stop me in my tracks. The physical reaction still happens, too, which I blame on my double curse of being both a Libra and a Minnesotan. You can have skin like a freaking elephant and the inherent desire to not offend anyone is still strong, folks.
A couple of months ago I wrote about the ex and his wife visiting my daughter in college. It was well-received, with many of my regular readers chiming in and sharing their own tales about kids and dads and the frustrations involved when the latter doesn't do a whole lot to interact with the former. Par for the course on my blog. The comment section here on The Happy Hausfrau is rich with stories, and it's become my favorite aspect of blogging. The way you all share your history, the way you comfort me and each other, the absolute sense of belonging that one gets when reading these snippets of life is awe-inspiring.
There are always a few naysayers, though. And for the record, I welcome them. It's good to hear from a different perspective now and then. I especially like hearing from stepmoms and second wives. Since I've been neither of those myself, finding out their opinions on subjects like the ones I tackle here is invaluable. Yes, even when their opinions are not big glittery "I LOVE YOU SO MUCH JENNY" Valentines.
There were two comments on the Secretary Goes to College post that kind of stuck in my craw. Okay, not kind of. They were totally wedged in there. I texted my bestie, Danielle, and asked her if I should respond. Her level-headedness always prevails so when she responded "let it go", I did. Kind of. But I can still feel them in there and it's a lot like a piece of popcorn that is stuck between your teeth and until you get some floss and make a bloody mess in the bathroom sink to extract it, it's going to drive you a little bit crazy every damn day.
So I'm going to go all Susan Powter today and STOP THE INSANITY. I'm going to address the critics and say what's on my mind. You've been warned.
Here is the first one:
Now, this one I did respond to in the comment section. I went the "but you don't know my life" route, and tried to defend myself. I also put in some props for my daughter, because I think she handled the situation with way more class than I would have. I'm over-the-moon proud of her and will brag her up any chance I get.
Then the second one came in, as a reply to the first one:
By this time I was kind of wrapped up in my writer's block/I'm so fat/why am I involved with a guy I shouldn't be involved with drama so I didn't respond. But the words, man. That's TWO passive-aggressives! They got to me. Just a little bit. And now I want to defend myself, and defend everyone else who writes about their lives and what they've gone/are going through.
Like the almighty Anne said, this is my story. It happened to me, I felt every second of it. I lived it, I breathed it, I slept with it and I cried over it.
I have earned the right to tell my story. Period.
Are there times when I've looked back on what was written here and felt some regret? Absolutely. For about ten seconds. Because I'm a firm believer in karma, serendipity, reaping what you sow and all that jazz. I think how you treat other people lays the foundation for how you will be treated in the future.
I'm not a saint. I've been a massive dick many times in my life (and am instantly regretting using the term 'massive dick' because OMG the pervs will be here in no time. Thanks, Google.). John McCain? I couldn't have been more evil to him. I still feel guilt about that one. But, here's the thing: I own that evil. I did it. I don't like what I did but there's nothing I can do to change it. If he decides to write about me, about how I treated him, about taking me to Amsterdam, wining me and dining me and then getting the worst possible butt-dial in the history of butt-dials, then so be it.
My actions would be the catalyst for what he wrote, and that is 100% on me. It would sting like a mofo to read about my shitty behavior, for sure. But every bit of that sting would be self-inflicted.
And by the way, Anonymous #2? I call bullshit. It would take a lot more than a passive aggressive ex to make me give up on trying to spend time with my kid. Say what you want about me, and about my blog, but please. Don't make excuses for someone not doing whatever they can to be part of their child's life. Also, regarding the statement "While Big Daddy did serious, gut-wrenching harm, I do feel for him a little bit. It can't be easy to know that your every parenting failure is on display for the whole of the internet to read"...Listen. I appreciate what you're saying. You're right, I can't imagine what it's like, either. I could make a little laundry list here, name all the wrongs, all the atrocities. But I won't. I'll let Ms. Lamott sum it up for me:
He should have behaved better.
P.S. just so I don't sound like a complete bitch (I'm okay with like, 85% bitch though), I hope my critics take note of the times I do speak favorably of my ex. He's making his own kind of efforts, and I applaud that. I've always encouraged my kids to maintain a relationship with their father. Hell, I've actually begged them to spend time with him. But I will never be able to forget the pain he caused. And that's why I write. Because other women going through that same kind of hell need to know they aren't alone, and that they will get through it. He can become Father of the Year, and it will never erase the past. I won't dwell on it, but I will never, ever forget about it.
Posted by the_happy_hausfrau at 9:33 AM