I've been thinking a lot these last few days about people, and Facebook, and blogging, and about how we represent ourselves and our lives online. I've recently been accused myself of not being 'real' on my Facebook page or with my blog posts, and that apparently I'm either fabricating what I post, or misrepresenting myself because its mostly positive, and happy, and joyful. The assertion is that this all must be 'bullshit' because nobody's life could possibly be that happy, and positive, and joyful all.of.the.time. And my answer to that I guess is: well, DUH.
I know that with all of this online access, and Facebook, and Twitter, and blogs, and such, that a people can literally post whatever it is that they want, whenever they want, about whatever they want to, at any given time. If you wanted to write your entire life story, or share every random thought that went through your head, or air every little detail of your dirty laundry, you could totally do that. But most of us don't. Well, if we're not crazy we don't. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle between not sharing anything at all, and sharing just about everything we can. And so it's really user discretion then as to how much we choose to share, and how much we don't. Not rocket science really, but it seems that there seems to be some confusion about this process. Since I can choose to share whatever I want to online, and I'm probably not going to share everything, then it is inevitable that many of us have things that that we also choose not to share.
I'm generally a very happy, positive person, and so it just makes sense that most of my posts are happy, and positive, and hopefully a little inspirational. Those are things that I like to post about, those are things that I enjoy posting about, and those are things that I get really positive feedback posting about. It makes me happy to be a positive person, and sharing that positive energy is what I like to do. Period. This is not to say that really crappy, non-positive things don't occur in my life. They do, and they do a lot. I guess I've always lived under the assumption that this is just an understood. For everyone. I don't know anyone that doesn't have life happen from time to time. I have three kids, I work a fairly stressful full-time job, I have relationship ups and downs that occur with any marriage. I mean, I have a life and that certainly includes bad days, tears, stress, heartbreak, angst, anger, and just plain icky stuff. But just because I choose not to always share that stuff with the world online, doesn't mean that it doesn't happen, and it certainly doesn't mean that I'm trying to fool people into thinking it doesn't happen. It just means that I am choosing not to always share it. That's it.
Generally when I'm having a bad day, or I'm stressed out, or I'm angry, then Facebook or my blog are not coping mechanisms for me. I talk to my husband or my girlfriends, go for a run, drink a glass of wine, or head to the yoga studio. I have other ways that I deal with the real life that happens to me all the time. I don't live my entire life online. That is not to say that I haven't, and don't sometimes use writing as a way to process things, and I certainly feel like I have shared a great deal of 'real' issues from time to time. I've written on both Facebook and this blog a number of times about having a bad day, or feeling inadequate as a parent, or dealing with my depression and anxiety. I've shared these when I've needed to, and when I've felt comfortable with it. There is also plenty that I haven't shared though, but it certainly doesn't mean that it didn't ever happen. I've contemplated suicide in my life several times pre-marriage and kids, and used to drink massive amounts of alcohol to self-medicate. My biological father is a crazy drunk who just several years ago crashed his semi into another truck, and burned over 75% of his body. (The man that I call my dad, not only because he adopted me, but because he's the person that has truly been my father most of my life, is not my 'biological' father). And there are still other tragic and sad things that I will never share online, and will be kept safe within myself and my family, and a few of my dearest, closest friends.
And I don't say all of this to garner sympathy. Everything that I have now shared are also things that I've worked through, and continue to heal from. And this is also not to say that there is anything wrong with people who do regularly share really hard life experiences, and emotions online. Heather Armstrong over at Dooce.com is a-ma-zing at this, and she has this perfect blend of grittiness, and humor, and self-deprecation. That's something she is good at, and people respond well to her, and get a lot from her blog in those ways. She's got a talent for it. But that is not me, or who I am, or what I'm comfortable with sharing. I like keeping it upbeat, and positive. Not only because I don't always feel the need to share the bad stuff, but because I'm just not prone to negativity in general. I don't get bent out of shape about piddly shit, and I don't normally have a lot I feel I can complain about. My life certainly isn't perfect, or all rainbows and sunshines, but I do try to embrace that there are a lot of great things about it.
But now, I've decided, in the name of continuing to keep it 'real' today (as well as to help myself process, I won't lie), that I also have a confession to make. I was kind of an asshole these last few days. I stepped completely out of character, and did and said some things that I not only typically wouldn't do or say, but I also am a tiny bit ashamed about. But first the back story:
Have you ever known someone who was, well... for lack of a better term, a bully? You know, the kind of person that was kind of loud and obnoxious with their opinions, and took great pride in the fact that they had the ability to really piss other people off. The kind of person who doesn't fight fair when you disagree with them, but will instead start striking below the belt, hurling viscious insults, and coming back with completely irrational arguments. You know, like an Ann Coulter type?
Well, I'm not going to go into terrible detail about it, because I honestly feel that completely re-hashing it here would just be petty. But the bottom line is that I've seen this person chew people up and spit them out for many years now, and it always upset me a little that she always got to beat people down and not fight fair when they disagreed with her, but if you ever gave her a taste of her own medicine, she'd quickly throw in a few jabs, grab her ball and want to go home. End of discussion. And something happened a few days ago where she did this exact same move again, talking all kinds of shit about me (see first paragraph above, actually), but not saying a word of it to me directly. And friends, I don't even know how to describe it, but something in me snapped. I had just hit my boiling point of dealing with some of the hypocrisy and childishness. And so I went after her, and I went after her HARD.
It wasn't pretty, and I'm not proud of myself at all. She was getting super angry, flailing to make an argument, and just couldn't stop from responding to me each.and.every.time I provoked her. And so I just kept going. I couldn't keep myself from continuing to taunt her. But the ugliest part of it all is that there for awhile, albeit a short while, I was really enjoying myself. Like, totally taking delight in making her squirm. And even though I finally began to feel bad, and the glee didn't last long, it was definitely there. After the fact, I didn't like seeing that in myself. At all.
So in the end, its clear to me that I could never be a ruthless bitch. I just don't have it in me, and I'm more than okay with that. Some people would call this a weakness, but I think its a strength. We as a society seem to overvalue aggressiveness and stoicism, and undervalue compassion and nurturing. And I could write an entire dissertation about that, but will save it for another blog post. I regret the way I behaved, but sincerely don't regret the experience. I truly did need to cut this toxic person from my life, but my aggressiveness toward her was really was all about me, and my need to obviously expel some demons. Lesson learned, demons expelled. I did what I needed to do, apologized, and am moving on. It really does feel good to detox sometimes, I just don't recommend doing it in the same way. And now I'm going to need to be working to replenish some good karma, stat!
At my core, I'm a nurturer. I'm happy, and I like helping make other people happy. I'm a classic bleeding heart social worker, for goodness sakes. I'm a positive person, and I like to just effin' radiate positive energy. I am not good at being viscious, or judgmental, or condescending. I'm just not. I want to build people up, and not tear them down. And I don't think I've ever tried to insinuate that I'm perfect; clearly I'm not! But I've lived in negativity, and depression, and self-loathing for quite some time, and it did nothing for me. That's truly not my reality anymore, and I'm thankful everyday for that. I posted the quote below on my Facebook wall a few days ago, and I like it so much I'm going to post it here again. It truly doesn't feel any more 'real' to me than this anymore:
"I do cartwheels, okay? In my driveway. Sometimes in my nightgown. And I will never stop trying to live life this way."
Plus, the Whole Foods Parking lot video. Because this is TOTALLY how I roll...