If I’m being honest, which is what this is all about (honesty and growth, right?), yesterday shook my (very newly formed) confidence.
Nothing like pouring your heart out into a post, sharing something vulnerable, to have people comment without thinking (and without reading past posts for context) and take that safety of your ‘space’ away from you. I’ve been lucky enough to have a very supportive community here, both of silent (I see you and love you!) visitors and a vocal crowd of commenters I love dearly.
But every once and a while a comment catches me off guard and I internalize it and will agonize over it and carry it with me for days… and that makes me wonder – do newer members of our community really understand the etiquette around commenting when it comes to mental health blogging? I generally don’t publish these comments, and there are more than a few that have come up in the last while.
These recent incidents have done three things for me.
1) They have made me miss Rachel on a deep, emotional level. She had always jumped to my defence whenever it was necessary but in the quest to educate, not demean or degrade. And she often said so much of what I was thinking. A few of my comments recently have been borrowed from ones she had left before – I went in search of a very specific post of mine where I remembered she had jumped to my defense, and I borrowed her calm, wise-minded words that I still have yet to find for myself. Rachel, if you’re somewhere silently reading along know I miss you and think of you often. And hope with all my heart you’re doing well.
2) If I’m being honest, these comments have made me question what was already a fragile blooming attachment. They’ve made me withdraw from the relationship I’ve been trying to get to with A. Which, honestly, fuck you for doing that. Intentionally or not. Because this shit is important and I have been trying to get here for months and although I hate it and I know I’m “letting it happen” you ruined it because I admittedly do not know how to separate what you said from what I believe. I am not strong enough in who I am as an individual, apart from my codependent family or a crowd, to really know that it’s okay to have what I feel be separate from others assumptions. That it isn’t punishable to go against the grain. A comment by a thoughtless commenter will now put me back. And this, in turn, has made me carefully consider my comments because God forbid I am that person for someone else (if I have ever, ever, upset any of you with a well meaning comment I sincerely apologize). It’s also made me realize that while I have come a long way I still instantly internalize the words of others. And it makes me really consider my role in this. I put these words out in the world. I am as much at fault if not the only person at fault here. I allow comments. Is it wrong of me to expect a certain amount of respect afforded to me when I’m posting in a public domain? I honestly don’t know the answer.
3) Finally, it has shaken my feeling of safety in posting here. What was my space to express my thoughts and to be me has now been tainted a little bit. There is a person behind these words. A real person who is struggling with some very real issues. Additionally – how harmful could these comments, if I allowed them, be to people who come here to read and get hope? Or to find someone who maybe is further along than them and be inspired but instead maybe also feel unexpectedly sidelined.
And so we have reached a point that was coming naturally anyways. I am travelling soon, and would be taking a break regardless, but as of right now I need to retreat and gather myself. The comments (more than one guys, I declined the majority of them) in question had an impact on me – more than I care to admit. And I’m still not 100% sure what role I play in that (because I do play one, I’m the person writing this for goodness sake), and what safeguards I should take moving forward.
So I won’t be posting for a while. This won’t be the end though, because I’m not going to ruin something that I’ve been told gives back to so many… but I need a break. I need to figure out how to not take comments from strangers so personally. I need to spend my time away on vacation being away, on vacation. I might need to get through this really young attachment phase first, and then write about it. Or maybe I start writing some private posts and give the password to those I trust most.
Know that I’m fine, I really am. For the majority of the time I’ll be lying on a beach, or surfing. The rest of the time will be spent writing and reading and considering what the rest of my year of deep healing looks like. I have gotten so busy and deviated from the path of regeneration, and restoration, that I should be on.
I want those of you who comment and read often to know that I so value your comments. They often come at the right time and present options or challenges or make me think or make me feel less alone. When I say to think before you comment, I am not talking about you.
But to those of you who haven’t mastered the art of commenting in the mental health blogging community – think before you comment. You may really seriously damage someone who is already emotionally fragile, and just not know it.
And to all of you, be well for the next few weeks. I’ll be back — after soaking up some very much needed space (I’m unplugging, completely!) and vitamin D, and snuggles with my husband, and sunrises above the clouds, and surfing and swimming with sea turtles and dolphins.
Yea, I need this.
See you in a while –