Tuesday, 16 September 2014

What To Do When People Are Mean.

I don't know how many "haters" I have. I know I'm not everybodys cup of tea lord knows I'm not my own cup of tea most of the time. Mostly I get "lovers" who somewhere, somehow, connect with my words enough to leave exquisite words of their own here. When you write things onto a computer screen and publish them out onto the internet, you automatically open yourself up to public scrutiny. I know this. I'll get raked over the coals every once in a while for the stuff I do or say and usually, mostly I cop it. Sometimes I fight back, but mostly I just ignore hell - a lot of the time I AGREE!

What really helps me is to read out the hurtful things people say about me to my husband Dave. Oh his responses, I wish I could video them. And if my twelve-year old son Max hears the mean stuff people say about me he just laughs, tells me not to worry, tells me something so calm and reassuring and it ALWAYS makes me feel better .

Mostly, I don't care. It's taken years to not care - and I don't mean become as hard as the world we live in, I mean just let the mean words trickle off like a dog pissing on a lamp post. Fine, you've left your mark, I got it. Now the rain and sun will wash away that piss and I can start again. Just because I write on the internet does not make me some untouchable god who should not be disagreed with or even dissed. You can diss me, I can diss you, we all live under the same moon isn't life hard and weird?

But I woke up this morning to an awful email. It's already deleted. It's gone. I'm never reading it again by the end I was just skimming it and I've blocked that IP. (Of course when you block an IP the person can find other ways, but still.) I almost shared the email here in its entirety. An email is different from a blog comment, a tweet, or message left on a "hate" site. An email is PERSONAL and I took it very personally. I wanted to share it out of anger but I also wanted sympathy and the thing is, I already have enough sympathy. I am blessed enough and lucky enough to have friends and strangers alike cheering me on from the sidelines as I go through the horrific, awful emotions and motions of dealing with the death of my brother. Who took his own life. Suicide. Which was exactly what this email was about - my brothers suicide, and how I'm writing about it irresponsibly. (Along with some *spectacular* pointing out of my character flaws, mental health issues, having children and passing on the addiction gene, etc.)

I can cop everything except being accused of writing about suicide irresponsibly. Sure, I don't leave suicide hotline numbers at the bottom of each post. No, I never say "trigger warning" on my "suicide posts." LIFE SHOULD HAVE A TRIGGER WARNING. This world, man. This world is NO place for a child.

The writer of my mean email (and I say mine because I own it, the writer gave it to me like a gift) got exactly what they wanted. And it was a really well-written email. Not one spelling mistake. I was deeply hurt, horrified at my actions, spiralled down into self-doubt and panic and oh my god what have I done?

What have I done? Well, I'm writing my way through what my brother did. I'm documenting one persons process and grief and journey through the most, THE MOST painful period of my life. I do this for many reasons - I'm a personal blogger so this stuff just comes naturally to me now. I do it to purge. To explain. To help. To howl. To expunge my hideous feelings out there into the universe via this strange medium called "the internet."

I keep writing because I keep living and I keep living because I keep writing and I have spent the past eleven months of my life grappling with the darkest stuff in my life and I haven't had a drink or a drug once in that time. I have been honest and open in that time. I have a huge belief that the way we talk about suicide is all wrong, you guys. Because we don't talk about suicide. We're starting to. And that is GREAT. It won't help my brother but it will most definitely help other people. Suicide rates are going up. Why? Why? Cameron took his own life for a lot of different reasons until they all came together in a perfect storm in his heart and his head and his mind and his soul until he got calm, in the eye of his own cyclone and he left us, he left us all here falling onto the grassy ground. Dave may as well build me a wailing wall in the backyard. I am keening. Keen sounds like it's a fun word but it's not, it's not it's an awful word for a thing that you do when you want to die after somebody you love has died.

But I am not dead. I am not finished. I will continue to document this suicide fallout - well, possibly until my gnarled fingers can't type anymore Siri how old will I be when I stop wording?

I am unorthodox and I polarise people and I swear and I am a mouthy, obnoxious, arrogant, selfish, self-centred person AND I DOUBLE DIP AND DRINK THE JUICE STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BOTTLE IN FRONT OF MY KIDS WHO LAUGH AND IT DRIVES MY HUSBAND CRAZY.

I will not be silenced on this I will not. Because I go up and down and around and sometimes I get clarity and think to myself, wow, my words can sometimes help people. And if my words about suicide can help people then that means Camerons suicide can help people and that means Cameron is helping people. To stay. To not do what he did. I get conundrumafied because why make somebody stay when they don't want to? And now I have perfect hindsight of Camerons perfect storm and here I am and there he is and that's all that's left of a beautiful man named Cam. I really know now, deep in my bones, how the people around him throughout his whole life could have helped him more, but also how hard I wished he knew how to help himself. Stigma. Stigma KILLS and blogpost by blogpost, maybe I'm chipping away a little bit at the stigma. Actually I know I am because many, many people have told me.

Jeez I wish I taught Cam how to fish instead of fishing all the fish for him. He'd sit on the riverbank, sad, and I would fish and fish and fish and my hands would be overbearing, overladen with fish that I'd bring back to him and he existed on my fish for a while, for some time. But it doesn't taste as good as when you eat a fish you catch yourself now does it. I keep getting a vision of me and Cam walking through life together and we talked so much about how tired we were. I was tired before he was even born. In a lot of ways, I was not a great role-model for him. Anyway so we're walking together on a path like in a movie and he just has to sit down next to a tree.

"You go on ahead without me, Eed."

And I'm all NO! I am not leaving you! Get up! You can keep going you can! But Dave and my children - all of my children, the ones from my womb and the ones not from my womb - they're all walking on ahead and I need to make a choice. I ran out of water for Cam and there's no fish and he tells me to keep going.

You know I kept going otherwise I wouldn't be writing this and you guys? Something EXTRAORDINARY has happened within the last week. Something so rich and incredible and miraculous. I was going to tell you today but it can wait. What I need to tell you today needs to be said today. And I'm purposely not writing any swearwords in this post so you can show anybody you want without offence.

You need to know that not everybody is going to like you no matter how hard you try. If you are all things to all people then you are nothing to nobody. And when you write or create or show or sing or dance or be or do or even just simply EXIST, then somebody will one day come along and take a gigantic poop on you. And it will smell and feel yucky and it will sting. But remember what happens when a bee stings you. You're left with the stinger and it hurts so you pull the stinger out and it's gone. But that bee? That bee DIES. That bee is designed to die when it stings. I bet that bee tries to sting someone real good, someone worthy of stinging. Imagine a bee accidentally stinging a boring middle-aged white balding dude in Bankstown who has done not one thing with his wild and precious life DANG IT I MEANT TO STING GANDHI THAT GUY IS SO FULL OF HIMSELF WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS.

Who does he think he is? Who do you think you are? Who do I think I am? How dare we be bold. How dare we be ourselves, tell the truth, laugh, be happy. When I showed my six year old son Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell doing Tight Pants I watched his face because I take great joy in watching my children laugh. First thing he said to me, deadpan:

"He's not even embarrassed mum."


The word "troll" has been both misused and overused for years now, but sometimes (thankfully for me not a lot of the time) it is a very, very applicable word. These days, faceless and nameless trolls sit underneath the bridge of the information superhighway and they're cranky. They don't want you to pass. Don't stop. Keep going. They're not the boss of you and how very ironic that the email I received this morning in regards to me writing about suicide belongs to a particular form of trolling that, you know, can actually cause suicide.

So today I'm off to my GP again, to get the results of my ECG because my heart rate is double it should be. Because my anxiety is off the roof, it's like I'm back with my brother a year ago, walking next to him, silently watching him go through all of the motions and things he did in the lead-up to his death. Then I'm going to come home and meet Dave here because we're getting photographed for the newspaper. When people see the photo in the paper they won't know all of the things going on beneath my skin, inside me. We've all got our stuff.

Please watch this magnificent thing below. Show it to your friends, your family, but especially any children present in your life. They're going to need it. 

(Thank you Manda for sharing it on my Facebook wall today, you changed my whole morning!)

Conclusion: What do you do when people are mean? Don't be mean back. After the dog wee washes off and the stinger comes out, you can get back to being the very same thing that a few (only a few) people will hate you for being:

You. They will hate you for being you. So make sure you be the best, strongest, boldest you that only you can be. The biggest revenge is living well. Fuck those guys.

PS Sorry I did swear but it was just once and it was CALLED FOR. So - how do you deal with meanies?

PPS (There is a link in my sidebar to the Black Dog Institute.)

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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