My particular brand of anxiety likes to zero on a fear of being misunderstood or saying things incorrectly with no way to amend. The OCD part of my brain will (un)happily explain, correct, and fix these mistakes repeatedly in my head while the more rational piece tries to let go. The inside of my skull is a big cartoon dust cloud with random arms and legs flying around as I fight with myself. It’s friends with the part of me that is terrified I’m not very good at things, and they both interact with the piece that sees complements as just climbing higher up the edge of a cliff.
This week’s Huffington Post essays have been an interesting experiment. On my own blog people tend to have a sense of what I’m about, to understand me in some way, and to be willing to assume good intentions if I say something that doesn’t strike the right chord. Huffington Post has no such filter. Up until now my submitted work has all been clearly my own experience, which is difficult for people to argue, but HP’s Facebook share of the “The Dishes Can Wait” essay was different. I can deal with the obvious trolls. I can laugh at the woman who called me a whiny millennial. Some of the readers took me so hilariously literally that I can’t be concerned.
I do think that there is some level of inherent success in managing to have two people get so disgusted with me that they told Huffington Post that they had lost a reader. That’s a pillar of the comment sections, and mine came complete with incoherent complaint!
The people who completely misunderstood my intentions and my point — those are the ones throwing more cartoon dust and dirt into the fray.
Some people accused me of trying to shame moms with messy houses while some thought that my house was actually in the state I described. A few people thought I ignore my kids constantly. They thought it was really about the dishes. None of that was the point, and none of that is true. The point is that whenever we say that the laundry and dishes are stressing us out, we are told that our kids are only young once and that we should not worry about these things. Essentially we are being told how to feel. We know it is said with good intentions, we know people are trying to relieve us of guilt. But when has telling someone to just not be anxious ever worked? It feeds into another thing to feel guilty about, another way to feel wrong.
I’ve learned some important lessons this week. I need remember that these readers do not know me at all, have not read my blog, and are predisposed to assume the worst and feel defensive. Some of them will never be satisfied, and that’s okay. Some people will never find the intersection of sarcasm and truth, assuming that it must be completely one or the other. I can, however, be more thoughtful and intentional in trying to make my points clear.
It’s funny how the criticism of the minority can scream so much louder than the kind words of the people to whom the writing resonated. The need to have everyone love every word is strong, and the misunderstandings are unavoidable pitfalls.
I’m trying to remember that I’ve gained 700 new followers this week. That I’ve gotten emails and messages from readers telling me how much what I wrote meant to them. Someone said it was the best thing they’ve read in 2016. I’m also trying to avoid a panic attack because omg what have I done and how am I going to convince myself I suck now? I’ll find a way; the one talent I can freely admit to is the ability to be uncomfortable with success and praise. But thank you guys for it anyhow. Thanks for trying to be louder than the negative voices both in the comments and my head. I mean, it makes me want to hide under my kitchen table, but it’s still nice.
Yesterday I got to be an adult for a few hours at my coworker’s wedding. I had an absolute blast. It was laid back and involved s’mores. Then I realized that the damn Easter Bunny still had to do her f%&king job. She has >one job, after all. Turns out the Easter Bunny shops at the Dollar Tree, and makes up for a refusal to bring much new crap into my house by turning the whole ordeal into a scavenger hunt. I think my favorite clue was, “Clue Two is TARDIS blue, and the egg is with ____.” Lorelei immediately said “Doctor Who!” So proud. She told me it was the best Easter ever, though considering we don’t generally celebrate Easter (since her birthday is right around it) the bar wasn’t set very high.
And then Lorelei cleaned her room. Of her own accord. This has happened exactly never. Mt Laundry is still producing seismic activity, but Lorelei’s room is clean.
I guess it was an Easter miracle.
Now I just need someone to come do the dishes….