Hate Mail and Other Fun Things
This has been a crap week and for 2020, that’s saying something.
I have always tried my best to be wholly transparent and write from a place of vulnerable authenticity. This is hardly a secret and right or wrong, it’s how I do things. I will admit that this week, I have been struggling. I have been inundated with memories I keep mostly at bay and it has left me feeling wounded and emotional. Sometimes, the beasts of my childhood get out of their cages and prey upon me relentlessly. I’m in the process of working through that and I’ve been weepy and worn out, trying to make peace – again – with the story that is my life. It’s not a place I visit often, but these last few days all the roads that usually lead out, seem to take me right back to where I started. It’s exhausting.
So with that in mind, the enemy must have thought this would be the perfect time for me to get my first piece of hate mail. I received a message on Messenger from someone whose name I don’t recognize. Apparently, it’s someone I went to boot camp with, but for the life of me, I can’t remember her. My boot camp yearbook is in storage, too, so I can’t even look her up. I will just call her “Susan”. This is what Susan had to say:
“Your piece on Swish was forwarded to me and I just wanted to let you know, I think you’re remembering things wrong. We all got in trouble for the way Swish walked (I don’t recall that) and for you laughing at inappropriate times (I DO recall that…Jacqueline Himschoot, I blame you). I thought then, as I do now, that you are vapud, shallow and an emotional mess. You weren’t as well liked as you think (I actually never thought that) and people made fun of you all the time (not surprising, I was a wealth of material back then). I read your other pieces and you should just stop now because no one cares. Love your photo shopped pics, by the way (not as much as you might think, but thanks…). I have unfriended you (I didn’t know we were friends…my bad) because you’re not someone I care to know. I didn’t like you then and I don’t like you now. Know you are loved…not so much.”
And then she blocked me.
OK…I hear you…but other than that, what did you think of my website?
This kind a smart-assery is probably why Susan never liked me to begin with. My first thought was “Holy crap, why so angry?” (Actually, that wasn’t my first thought. My first thought was “You spelled vapid wrong. It’s vapid, not vapud. If you’re going to insult me, at least spell it correctly.”) Then I put my forehead down on the table and stared at the kitchen floor for a while. A million things have run through my mind since then, as I try to accurately recall my eighteen year old self. It’s easy to hit someone and then run, blocking them so they can’t respond. So, I guess I’ll just reply here, instead.
“Hello, Susan. It’s been a while. Thirty-three years to be exact. Glad to see you have moved on. I wish I could remember you, but I don’t. I read your message about a dozen times before I erased it, but I wanted to tell you, you are probably right. I was vapid back then (by the way…spell check…it’s a thing.) I was also flighty, damaged, irresponsible, extremely insecure and quite often, very emotional. I can say with absolute certainty that I was an epic pain in the ass and I’m sure they were glad to see me go. I could tell you all the reasons why I was like that, but it doesn’t really matter. I was eighteen…just a child, really. At times, I acted like one. I had no idea who I was, so I gravitated toward people I admired and tried to emulate them. I asked a million questions because I had no answers, and wanted my life to finally have some clarity. That can’t happen in the eight weeks you knew me…it took a bit longer for me to figure out who I am; wish I could be sorry about that. My work is not for everyone, but I appreciate the time it must have taken to read and hate each piece. I probably would have stopped at the first two or three, but that’s just me. I’m glad you finally got the chance to tell me how you really feel after three decades, I hope it helped. Your words stung a little, but trust me – you can’t possibly be harder on me than I have been on myself. You’re a bit late to that fight, sweetie. I hope you are well and blessed. Know you are loved. XOXO (because everything is better with XOXO…) Tracy.”
I will not hide from who I am or who I used to be. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but at least it’s real. I know that when you put your work on a public forum, you are inviting criticism, both good and bad. I won’t lie and say this didn’t hurt, but it didn’t break me, either. I am nothing if not resilient. But I would be lying if I said that I am not really, really ready for this week to be over.
Know you are loved.