Cursing The Darkness

candle-1421437-639x847“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

I allowed my candle to be snuffed out last week and spent a few days cursing the darkness.

Social media is a two-edged sword. It allows me to connect with like-minded individuals, transforming what can be a lonely existence with a chronic illness into one filled with support. Strangers become confidants and sometimes even lifelines. Communities blossom, become stronger, make the world a better place with the addition of social media.

It can also suck. Strangers can also become critics, seeking attention through negative attitudes. They prescribe to the idea that they can be wrong at the top of their lungs and someone will listen and believe them. There’s an entire world out there that is fueled by the perpetuation of misperceptions. (Helllooooo…. Crossfit.)

Normally, when faced with an Internet troll, I remind myself that keyboard courage is a real thing. People hid behind a computer and say things they would never say standing in front of that person. These individuals simply are unable to have a civil conversation online. ‘Bow gracefully and step away’, I mumble to myself. ‘You have other things more worthy of your attention.’

I got caught with my computer pants down. Coming off of a few weeks of traveling and intense conversations with people who matter, I was emotionally and physically drained. Out of nowhere, there were a few social media interactions that pushed the boundaries of politeness  went for the jugular about what I was doing, who I thought I was, and my place in the community – from more than one person in the space of a few hours.

Let’s get this straight: I am no angel.

black-and-white-eye-1254497-640x480I am not altruistic; The Diabetes Collective and the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition are passions of mine because I benefit directly from my efforts and the efforts of others. I have been told (by both friends and employers) that I can be condescending, passive-aggressive, abrasive, aggressive, and a few more “you’ve got to work on your ability to work with others.” I run with scissors. I can be quick to anger. I can be an asshole.

Take them all as character flaws and know that I am acutely aware that I am not perfect. (Helloooo… title of my blog?) But… I’m a perfectionist, holding up impossible standards that I will never reach. Diabetes makes anyone with perfectionist tendencies feel like a failure. It’s taken me a long time to get over that.

I am also incredibly sensitive, want to be loved as much I as love others, seek to learn from my mistakes, and extend a hand to help whenever it’s needed. It took me years to laugh at myself or not spiral into anger or sadness when someone picked on me. (I was/am easy pickin’, too. I’m tiny with a weird name.)

Bone weary, drained, thinking intently over the previous few days “where do I belong in this growing community?”, and the tacit confirmation of a friendship lost set me up for a wailing wind that blew through my soul and snuffed the candle I work very hard to keep lit.

Cursing the darkness, I let it be known to my group on friends on Facebook that I had reached my limit of putting myself out there. I was done sharing, done being passionate, done. Just done.

It’s cold in the dark. Quiet. Isolated. It’s not where I like to be and there are moments that I think sharing my story and my life openly on this blog and on social media puts me in danger of having my candles blown out. We’ve all seen the damage that social media can do to one’s psyche. It happens every day.

My beautiful friends, being who they are, responded with soothing words and candles of their own to light the way out of the dark for me. I am grateful to them.

This is why the blog has been quiet as of late. I’ve had to do some much needed introspection and think about how I reacted and how I would react in the future if this happened again, which we all know, social media being what it is, probably will.

I don’t have answers, but thanks to people who know who I am (sometimes better than I do myself), at least I’m not cursing the darkness.

 

 

 

0 comments
  1. Well said. I don’t have any idea what you’re referring to specifically. All that matters is, you took the high road. Please keep the blog flame lit; T1D is incredibly isolating, and you’re one of the best writers shining a light (as it were) through the collective darkness. Best Leslie

    >

  2. The thing about the darkness is this, we weren’t lighting candles for you. We were helping you find the god damn lighter and relight yours. We are all victims of bullying and attacks every now and then and the great thing about the friendly side of this community is not that we stand in front of you and fight for you, or light candles for you its that we stand behind you and help you relight your way.

    It’s like the old saying give a man to fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for life.

    We are all here just re teaching you to fish when you’re thrown off your game, or someone tries to make you forget.

    That is love.
    That is power.
    That is our community!

  3. Christel, your antagonists are the darkness, and your loyal friends give you the light to see your way through that darkness. You are a bright and shining star who has accomplished so much in the DOC, and we admire you very much. I am not your father, but I want to say that I am very proud of you!!

  4. “I have been told (by both friends and employers) that I can be condescending, passive-aggressive, abrasive, aggressive, and a few more “you’ve got to work on your ability to work with others.”

    Wait… where did you get my annual review file?

    Love Ya Mean It.

  5. You’re too hard on yourself. Character flaws? We know you’ll have our collective backs. A good person isn’t always a nice person. You’re a good person. You’re trusted by people to whom trust doesn’t come easily. And you’ve earned that trust.

  6. Your courage to continuously share your vulnerability is one of the reasons I admire you so very much. Those who point fingers and judge the actions and thoughts of others are sad, tiny little people. Those who help, support, and go to great lengths to try to make the world a better place are gargantuan. Your voice and words are immensely important my friend

  7. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my feelings! Is it really like the old song, “Easy to be Hard”?

  8. Linda Werner T1 55 years and going strong!
    Keep up your work. I appreciate your blogs and I did wonder where you were. Is anyone besides myself who has Medicare as their primary having trouble getting enough testing supplies ? It’s like pulling teeth. It seems Medicare only wants us to test 3times a day and I need to test 7 , more or less. Is there somewhere I can call or write? Again, thanks for all you do.
    Linda

    1. Linda,
      When you go to http://www.diabetespac.org and look for the Access issue actions, you can send info to your representatives asking for a hearing… I would suggest that. (And thank you…)

  9. Now I know what Elton John meant when he penned the lyric “Candle in the Wind”. Your metaphor of a candle is right on….vibrant, dynamic, unpredictable, angry, fiery, beautiful…. and highly vulnerable to easily being extinguished.

    I, on the other hand, am like a lightbulb. Boring, reliable, safe, designed to fade into the background. Nobody sings the praises of a lightbulb.

    But with a light bulb, when it goes out you throw it in the trash and get a new one. A candle can be reignited and can burn as brilliantly as before. So no matter how harsh the wind blows, take comfort in knowing there are plenty of us, as Alanna said, willing to help you find another goddamn lighter.

  10. Sorry I wasn’t able to get to this before now. Just to reiterate what everyone else is saying: You are important. Your voice is incredibly important. Whatever it is that you are, I would trade someone living in an online world of bitterness for all of your so-called character flaws any day. Twice on Sunday.

    Glad you’re back.

    1. Thanks to all the others who find words for my thoughts. Probably “So glad you’re back” would have been all I have found – at least in English.

  11. Thank you Christel. Not just for being your usual, thoughtful self, but for sharing a shadowy side of social media. As individuals we are exposed on the internet to those who find power in bullying, in intimidation. When I think about you being the subject of abuse by anyone, I feel a wave of anger. I don’t get it and I’m terribly sorry that it happened at all. Whether you step away from blogging for a while or decide to keep chuggin’ along despite the haters, I fully support you. You have a good head on your shoulders and a good heart in your chest. I love you and hope that even if a break is necessary, your voice rings loud enough for us to hear. This community is stronger when you have a megaphone. LYMI.

  12. just remember this: Though she be but little, she is fierce. From one fierce little sister to the other, much love to you. oh… and F THEM!

  13. Thankfully I haven’t run into anything like that and I really don’t know how I would react if I did. I admire you for standing up for yourself even if it did result in the snuffing out of your candle for a while. I tend to run away and hide. Meaningful conversations are helpful as long as both parties do so with respect, but when you get someone who takes a know-it-all attitude, the best thing is withdraw and let them think they won. Which is so hard for most of us to do. Some people will just never see your point of view and they are bound and determined not to change theirs. You are doing well in how you handled it, and I know you will do just as well, really better, next time it happens.

  14. […] feel this way when it comes to diabetes burnout in general, and I had my own brush with online diabetes burnout a few weeks ago. Fading away (just ghosting from the online community and not coming back) is […]

  15. […] threatened with physical violence, suggestions made on how to make this person “pay.” I’ve been personally attacked in private messages on social media and I know of others who, simply by sharing their lives with diabetes openly, received emails that […]

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