Yesterday, I received my very first “mean” comment. When I first started this blog, I knew that not everyone would like what I had to say, but I was naïve enough to believe that such a raw, honest, and vulnerable sharing of my soul would deter people from expressing their distaste. Well, I was wrong. Apparently “troll” no longer only applies to those creepy little dolls with the crazy hair. After spending the entire day and night crying and obsessing over this comment, I got my puffy-eyed, sniffling, pounding headache self out of bed and wrote this letter to my daughter.
My dearest baby girl,
Yesterday, someone tried to post a really mean and hurtful comment on my blog. I spent a lot of time and energy being upset about that one comment. It seemed to outweigh all of the really positive feedback I’ve gotten and all of the people I’ve helped. And as I perseverated endlessly, I kept thinking about you. About the fact that, despite how much my heart aches just thinking about it, you too will have to deal with people like this. People who want to bring you down. I won’t be able to take that pain any from you, even though I will want to. The best thing I can do for you is be a woman you can learn from, a woman you can admire and respect, a woman who doesn’t shy away from hard or uncomfortable things. So, here’s what I’m learning:
1. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to scream. It’s okay to want to be alone. It’s okay to feel however it is that you feel. Don’t try to stop those feelings at first. Let them come. Embrace them, knowing that dealing with them now will make it easier to let them go later on.
2. Don’t respond right away. Take a shower. Go for a run. Eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Sleep on it. Because even though it feels really good in the moment to say or do exactly what’s in your mind, you usually end up with regrets. This is hard to do. The Jersey came out in me yesterday, and all I wanted to do was find this person and go off Real Housewives style. But what, exactly, would that have solved? Give yourself the time and the space to gain perspective.
3. Don’t let someone else’s lies become your truth. My initial reaction after reading the comment? I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. I felt bad for you that I’m your mom too. I let myself believe everything this person was saying was true. But then I read it again. And again. And again. And a couple more times. And you know what? It’s not even close to being true. I don’t need to defend myself (even though I really, really want to). Because the only people who need to know this isn’t true are you and me. And I KNOW that we both know how much you are loved. You know who you are. Trust that. Believe that.
4. Deal with it. I despise confrontation. The thought of it makes my stomach knot up and my hands sweat. When I read this comment, the two most appealing options to me were deleting it and pretending it never happened or stop writing my blog. But you know why I didn’t choose either of those options? Because of you. Because I want you to be a strong, confident woman who stands up for yourself, for what is right, for what you believe in.
Both of those options, although tempting in their easiness, let this person (who interestingly enough decided to stay anonymous) win. To have power. And not only over me, but over every woman who has struggled with being a new mom. That kind of hateful judgment is exactly why I started this blog in the first place. I won’t give them the satisfaction of posting it, but I will call them out: Your comment was disgusting. But you didn’t win. So, even though this is really, really hard, I’m dealing with it (and adding a disclaimer to the comments section).
5. Find the silver lining. I learned a lot from this experience. I learned that I belong to an incredible community of fellow moms and bloggers who I could not have done this without. I learned that for every bad comment, there are ten positive ones. I learned that I can do things that scare me. Trust me, I know how easy it is to dwell on what’s bad. Even if the only silver lining you can find is that you made it through the day, find the good.
6. Forgive and let go. You have zero control over how people act, but you have complete and total control over how you react. So once you’ve dealt with it, forgive and let go. This isn’t for the other person. This is for you. This sets you free from letting anger, hurt, and sadness keep you down.
You are making me a better person, my darling girl. I hope I am becoming a woman you admire and respect.
All my love,
***A special thanks to the ladies at Honest Voices for their support and advice. Here is a post Jessica Severson shared with me about her first experience with a “hater.” She said it much better than I ever could: http://theseversons.net/2011/08/blogging-dilemma/.