12/5/14

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.



23 comments:

  1. HEAR HEAR Jenny! Good for you! It's your story. Anyone can tell their own story but as you say you OWN this one and you do. Oh those critics and naysayers will someday fall off their pedestals.
    Glad you're back writing. Andrea

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think you are saying here that you are no longer responsible for worrying about how your ex feels about things you say. That the pain you've been through, while making you stronger, has also absolved you of any obligations you might once have had toward protecting his precious feelings. Also, your daughter is old enough now to pursue her own relationship with him, regardless of your feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I always enjoy reading your posts. I appreciate your stories from your perspective. And, isn't that the point when you blog? To tell your story. I'm sure you've heard the old saying that there's your truth, the other person's truth and then the real truth. I have no idea what the "real" truth is anymore b/c to me what really matters is each person's experience and their perspective that emerges from that. I think your posts are hilarious and awesome. Keep rocking your truth. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. You were nicer to those two than they deserved.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is simply a matter of the truth. When my ex slept with a family friend for 3 years and lied to everyone about it until I found out, I was adamant that the truth be told. I made sure that our 2 children only heard the truth. I am friendly with my ex and we even do some things together with our children but I in no way forget or forgive what he did. He is the one that has to live with the mess he made and figure out how to make that right with his children. I encourage my kids to see there Dad and I do not bad mouth him but I also do not hide the truth, everyone knows the ugly truth and I prefer that over any lies.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't agree with either of those "Anonymous" posts. You have EARNED the right to tell the truth, and that includes your feelings! No way to sugar-coat what he did to you AND his children. The truth is the best way to go, and it sounds like you have been honest with them. Your kids seem to "get it" - that YOU are the one who has been a constant in their lives, always there for them. Their dad - - not the case. He was too busy making his "other" family. If he didn't want the truth to get out about how he really is, and the hurt he's caused his children, he should have kept his zipper up. What a Richard.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You go, bringing it full circle on their asses. It's your blog for effs sake, you can write whatever you want. You don't make BD read it, his shame does.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think all those two critics deserved from you was "Well, opinions are like assholes...everyone's got one, and some of them stink." The BEST I can say about those two is that they can't be very bright, because they totally missed your point. Like everyone else has said, you've more than earned the right to say whatever you please -- that's the whole purpose of a blog. And your telling your story has helped so many others who are in the same shoes! Listen Jenny, I absolutely get it about how those critics can get under your skin and make you question and second-guess yourself -- especially if you're already feeling vulnerable and self-doubtey (is that a word? It is now.). I'm the same way, and hell, I'm not even a Libra. But I'm glad you ultimately don't care that much about them -- they don't know you or your life, like you said, and their little opinions really are of no consequence. Go right on telling your truth, sistah!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AMEN!!! AMEN I SAY, AMEN!!!

      Delete
  9. Tell it like it is, Jenny. You don't need to apologize to anyone or even to yourself. It's time you let your voice be heard. Thunder and shake every nook and cranny, and not let any corner left upturned. I am a Libra, and only two years older than you. I'm not divorced, and also have four children. But I tell you, I am tired, very tired, of having to tread lines ever so carefully. I will tell your story like it is, start from the start, the very beginning. There is no law against courage, and you have the ability to use words; you twist and wring every single event with your story telling, We feel, live, suffer, go down, rise up, celebrate, and continue with you. Your blog attracts women because anything real and true cannot be covered up. Live on, Jenny, and thrive. I so wish this for you and for all of us.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm a fan of yours in a big way! I'm living a similar tale with my "loser" and our boys. I can't understand how someone can go from being a loving father to being completely absent from his children's lives. My "loser" destroyed our family with lies, cheating, and emotional abuse (frankly, I think that the lying and covering up IS emotional abuse on it's own but mine wanted to add a little extra just to spice it up). Now he's out on his own, living his dream, child free, no responsibilities, flirting with anything that moves... How does someone not contact their children? I mean, I can understand not wanting to see your ex anymore but your kids? One of the hardest things for me is that, for the most part, no one else really knows what he's done. My mom knows, my friends know, the kids know (because I too believe in honesty - not trashing - just complete honesty with a little life lesson thrown in), but his parents don't really know. Our general friends and extended family don't know. This sits poorly with me. For a long time now I've wanted to write our little tragic tale down and let the world know what a douche he has been. We separated about a year and a half ago. I've kept my secret/his secret in the hopes that my need to share wasn't fueled by my anger. That my ace is the hole (the ultimate embarrassing truth) didn't become public knowledge because I wanted to "hit back". Every so often I revisit the idea of outing him and wonder if it's ok to talk to his parents. Is it ok if I post something on facebook so that our general friends can see what he's done to a perfectly good and loving family. I thought we had it all. I guess that he wanted more. The selfishness is astounding. Reading your blog is like a getting a sweet taste of what it would be like to go public. I'd hate for my kids to feel embarrassed in any way. I really don't want to add to the dysfunction that my "loser" brought into our lives. I also don't want to be perceived negatively and have my actions thought of as striking back. Aren't we all told to let things go? Heal. Move on. Be the bigger person. I don't know. All I know is that after all this time and all the patient waiting to make sure my honest portrayal of my "loser" is done from a place of good (for me) and not just to sucker punch him, I still can't bring myself to pull the trigger. I'm happy for you that you were able to do this and to have done it with such great success. Good for you girl! It has been helpful to me and I thank you for that :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. You have absolutely earned the right to tell your story.
    And your kids have experienced their father's behavior for themselves-that is going to inform their per exception of him, not your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's really not that complicated. Had your ex not cheated on you and treated you and his children like crap, you would never have had the material to start the blog. Your writing is just a tribute to his contribution. Kudos to you Jenny for giving him the credit he deserves. Surely he's proud to have been a part of showcasing your delicious writing talent. Keep it up, you're loved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen to every word of this comment. Says it all perfectly.

      Delete
  13. I take umbrage with the mere suggestion that men will give up on their children because their ex is difficult. Complete load of crap. My dad stopped coming for visitation when I was a kid. I was always told he probably had his own side of the story or reason, but he was not around to tell it, so that's on him. As far as I could tell, they were always cordial with each other in spite of any disagreements, so there was really no excuse for his behavior. I want to say so much more, but at the risk of being unnecessarily snarky to complete strangers who validate this sort of thing, I will refrain.

    It's your blog, you do not mention the man by name, write what you want.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Will you please write a post about foreclosure 101 for Mn? I was left with a house and need some advice...

    ReplyDelete
  15. I don't think I've ever read that quote.... I think I needed it now. Thanks. <3

    ReplyDelete
  16. I agree with whoever said you earned your right to tell your story. And Anne Lamott said it perfectly. She always does! (I'm reading Small Victories now and it's so good.)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hey Jenny,
    I found your blog through your piece on 8 Years a Divorcee on the Huffington Post. I'm slowly making my way through your blog because a), you are amazing b) you are amazingly honest c) you make me laugh, nod my head with agreement, and sometimes shake with rage at what has happened to you.
    My daughter shared that quote with me earlier this year when my ex told me he would get his lawyer to write into our separation agreement that I couldn't talk about MY story on my travel blog because it would be a violation of HIS privacy. Sorry, nope, it's my story, it happened to me and I will tell it if I want to. I'm not going to lie or embellish (god knows I don't have to!) but I will tell it. If you didn't want it to sound so bad, you should have acted better.

    I only posted once in April:

    http://thisoldbroadsblog.blogspot.ca

    I haven't posted yet because my optimism that he would make the most of his second chance was premature and he managed to screw up his relationship with his daughter and grandkids within 2 short months. The selfishness and narcissism, the need to not be alone and to explore his new life is stronger than the need to see his kids and grandkids. Much like you, I'll never understand the choices he's made and keeps making, but I have to move on. I will write more once it's not to painful for me to and the quote above will serve as my beacon that I can tell my story.

    In the meantime, I'll continue to make my way through your beautiful blog. Your kids know you were there for them from the beginning, are there for them now and will always be there for them. That is your legacy and you will be the one with the relationships, the love, the hugs, and the memories. Your ex ~ well, like mine, he'll have his new life. Hope it's as good as what he left behind and as what he imagined, but I really doubt it.

    Hope you had the best Christmas with your family. I'm looking forward to catching up on your story. Keep writing because it is YOUR story.

    Jo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jo, I'm having a blast reading your comments...like a trip down memory lane. I'm so sorry for the pain you're experiencing. Nobody deserves it. I hope you find some comfort here, not only in my cuckoo stories but in the comments as well. I've met some pretty kick ass people on this journey. You will too!

      Jenny

      Delete
  18. I have found in large part that the majority of people are afraid of the truth, and they resent you for having the boldness and courage to express it. I have also been in your shoes as a crusader for the truth, and others shunning me for it. I find that your blog and your experiences are a tremendous resource for others that are experiencing the like.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I remember reading those comments for that post and they stuck in MY craw!!! Everyone above has said it in different and great ways... This is YOUR story and it's up to you to decide if you want to tell it. But he created the material so... Grow some balls & own it BD and quit whining... OR behave better! It'd be one thing if you were posting this on Facebook, calling out names, doing it to lash out... That's why so many of us love this blog, and you - it never comes off like that! It feels like sitting in that room w/you, martini in hand, hearing you tell it to a friend. Ultimately your kids are the barometer and it's not bugging them, therefore shouldn't bug you and I suspect those it does bug, is likely because they have stuff they (or someone they make excuses for) have/has similar junk out there they wouldn't want aired, so this blog maybe hits close to home sometimes! But look at all the people you help and encourage!!! That says it all! And I still want to hear your Jenny-fur story! :P

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...