This week we lost a great woman. A woman who despite all circumstance rose to become an icon, a nobel laureate, writer, human rights activist, Christian and poet. An astonishingly great woman who despite all odds, became a beacon for healing, forgiveness and tolerance. A woman I very much looked up to and a woman who inspired me, in large part, to start writing. The great benefit of writers is that we live on, in the hearts and minds of people who were not even part of our lives during our lifetime.
Now, I am in no way saying I am anything remotely like Ms Angelou, but we all need heroes to look up to and to inspire us, to keep us searching for the greatness within, to inspire us to leave some sort of mark in the world. If I have helped even one person, in whatever small way with my writing, then I would have accomplished more than I set out to.
My most recent blog post was about me, as this entire blog is and for that I was labelled a narcissist. Ben Trovato (one of my ALL time favourite writers who writes a vast amount about himself) will tell you in his new book, that writers are indeed glory mongers who yearn for recognition and this is true in varying degrees. I write to understand myself, not anyone else. If this makes me narcissist, then so be it.
I am attempting to learn from my past mistakes and free myself from the bondage of my past. I have attempted to be unendingly honest and have achieved this in greater degrees than I ever thought I could. This is partly because I write under a pseudonym. There are some people that know who I am and it has backfired somewhat. I recently had some unwanted attention from people I have previously said goodbye to.
This particular person viewed my blog 75 times in one day and then took the time to create 2 email addresses and pen some hate mail from both.
I think we can all agree I made the right decision. Another decision, that of leaving my ex-husband (and certain members of his family) was also the right choice–not that it needed verification but it helps. I have discovered that the ex-family have been reading my blog and one particular member of the family has taken it upon herself to send diatribes about how I should stop writing, change my name back to my maiden name and ‘move on with some dignity’.
Why, if you care so little about me, are you in the least bit concerned with what I have to say especially in light of the fact that no real names were mentioned? More than three years after the fact, you are still harbouring resentment and bitterness that I kept my married surname? It honestly, never bothered me enough to change it back.
While trying to make sense of my past and myself I have tried to focus on what I am able to learn and how I can grow from my mistakes. When you have someone try to contact you through fake email addresses on your blog and level insults at you, you can react in one of two ways; you can get upset or you can deal with it properly. My process is writing about it and so this is how I deal with it. In times gone past I was borderline cruel when I felt hurt (it was a self defence mechanism) and have come to realise on this journey how utterly unnecessary that treatment of other people is. You cannot hurt someone back and expect to come out clean because when you sling mud, you always get some on yourself.
I need to make room for the proverbial light and the healing, something Ms Angelou showed us time and again. Such great capacity for love and healing comes from one place – Christ and this is where I choose to take my example from. I have not reacted in typical ‘me’ fashion. I have remained silent, choosing to analyse how it makes me feel and yes, writing about it and sorting through it. I can tell you that for a moment, it made me feel like the little girl at school all those years ago who was being called names but unlike her, I did not feel helpless.
In years gone past I would have risen to the bait and unleashed a vitriolic diatribe of my own, letting that person know exactly what I thought of their ill-concluded judgements. People who know me will not understand my silence and that in itself is empowering.
Not giving them what they so desperately crave: a reaction.
Today I choose to put aside those feelings of shame, embarrassment and anger and move forward, leaving them behind. I choose, like Ms Angelou to rise above it and finally realise that my self-worth and value is not founded in their approval in the least. I do not need to be vindicated in their eyes and this has been the most liberating and freeing part of this journey. I have spent too much time carrying hurt and bitterness with me and it stops here.
I am free. I am free from the resentment, the anger and the bitterness and I am walking away with vastly more dignity and self respect than I have been credited with.
To anyone reading this who has been bullied, I refer you to some more Maya Angelou wisdom: “One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, is forgiveness”
Forgive and move on, because living well is the greatest revenge there is.
Thank you for reading.