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.
I 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.