This past week I received a particularly nasty email which made me question whether blogging was worth it. It made me wonder whether I should continue writing at all. It made me wonder why I put my heart out in public. This led to a brief (but terrifying) bout of panic wherein I wondered if blogging was dead. And then I realized I was giving away my power by allowing one stupid-ass email to determine how I chose to live my life. This incident reminded me why I've made the decision to delete and block people who leave unkind comments on my site. I thought I'd share that decision-making process with you.
After I finished writing my book and saw it published and sent out into the world, I began experiencing a new kind of freedom: the freedom to honor myself and what I'd accomplished.
Not only had I overcome an abusive childhood, I had built a new life for myself. I had cried my tears, I had said my piece, I had honored my story. It was time for me to stop acting like I was just renting my life and really own it.
A strange thing began to happen: the more I owned my life and honored myself, the less willing I was to be treated dishonorably by others. The more I owned my story, the less willing I was to answer baiting questions, defend myself against accusations or explain myself to people who didn't deserve my time.
The farther I removed myself from fundamentalism, the less I wanted to engage people who still acted like fundamentalists—Christian or otherwise. In fact, I found that it was a waste of my precious energy to engage anyone who treated me disrespectfully or used manipulative, shaming language in my comment box or via email.
As much as I wanted to help people, I began to realize that I couldn't rescue or save everyone. Heck, I could barely save myself. Just like I've had to do the hard work of recovery, those who want freedom will have to do their work, too. The best way to help others is to continue taking care of myself. The best way to change the world for good is to move forward—regardless of whether others approve or come along with me.
Sometimes courage means moving forward alone.
For most of my life, I've doubted my voice. I've been so insecure at times that I wouldn't make decisions without polling everyone around me and receiving permission.
As I've done the hard work of recovery, I've learned how to love myself. I've learned how to trust myself. I've learned how to honor myself and protect myself. Best of all, I've learned (and am learning!) how to APPROVE of myself!
One practical result of this has been that I delete and block any unkind comments or rude behavior on my website. I don't need unkind voices in my comment box because those voices make it hard for me to hear my own voice. Mean voices only have power if I give them power. Honoring myself means not squandering my power on energy-vampires.
Honoring my own voice means spending more time and energy on positive voices. I've done enough moderating to know when someone is genuinely curious or just itching for a fight.
I've built this blog. I've created this space. Why should I dishonor what I've created by allowing others to crap on my lawn?
Furthermore, I've begun to realize that I owe it to my readers to create a safe place. If I allow others to beat me up in my own space, then YOU won't feel safe here, either. It's really important for women to see other women standing up for themselves and honoring their own lives. Because we live in a society that routinely pits women against each other, I find it doubly important for women to feel safe with other women. If we're going to counteract this culture, we women need to create safe spaces for each other.
And that starts with me taking care of myself. So, if you write a mean email or leave an unkind comment on my blog, it will be summarily deleted. Without explanation. On the big posts, I won't even see the mean words because I've hired a friend to moderate comments.
I finally value what I think of myself more than what others think of me.
And THAT, my friends? THAT feels like true freedom.