Project your crap much, Dan?
Why yes, yes I do.
I was hiking with Fabulous Wendy who I really adore, especially since she remained my hiking companion after we broke things off a little while back. Dedicated hiking buddies are hard to find. But she’s there, pretty much every weekend, conquering some crazy awesome trail with me.
So, we were huffing and puffing our way to Silver Lake here in Utah and for some reason things got a tiny bit tense between us. They often do with her and we have to laugh about it because it’s not that way with much of anybody for either of us and we can’t really explain it. We both have analytical personalities and so we tend to analyze the crap out of ourselves and out of each other. And then we analyze the crap out of the over-analyzing. Which I think annoys us both to the nth degree sometimes.
Anyway, she was giving me some (pretty good) constructive criticism about my blogging, and I was getting defensive telling her why I was doing what I was doing, why I was saying what I was saying, and why I was, in general, perfectly perfect as all perfectness can be and how even in my imperfect moments I was ultimately as perfectly perfect as all perfectness can be.
You know… one of those beat your head against a brick wall conversations.
Later up the trail when I wasn’t so caught-up defending my perfectness, she began telling me about this couple she met who she thought were the greatest people on earth. These guys had adopted five kids and were pretty much, like I mentioned, the greatest people on earth. She went on to talk about the husband and how he adored his adopted children, was so on the ball with everything in his children’s lives, and how he was such an incredible dad. Then she said, “watching him just gave me faith that there are still guys like that out there.”
And I was like… what!? And I looked at her like… what!? And I said something very passive aggressive like, “oh, that’s good to know that every other guy you know is a douche.”
And she looked at me and said, “Dude, you really internalized that one.”
And I was like, “no I didn’t.” And she was like, “yes, you did.”
And then we walked the last mile to the lake poking and prodding at each other’s tender mental spots. Pushing each other’s buttons. And at the top we weren’t really hiking buddies at all.
And then I was like, “dude, I’m sorry, you’re right. I was projecting. I was internalizing.” And she was like, “yeah dude, you were.”
For the rest of the hike we were pretty awesome friends. Best friends again. Cause we’re cool like that. We know how to put the tense moments behind us. I like friends who can do that because things will get tense with any good friend who’s a friend worth having.
But before we headed back down the trail, we had a friendly and serious discussion about projecting crap and internalizing things and I realized, man, I do project a lot. I do internalize a lot. Why do I do that?!
At the time, I was getting ready to launch Bullied. The Forgotten Memoirs. I had spent days editing it, organizing it, and getting lost in its message and the emotions that surrounded it. And, I was sure that when I published it, the trolls would come out in abundance. After all, I was still recuperating from the aftermath and greater blogosphere response of the I need your help post.
During those two weeks in general, I was just down. I was having a hard time. I wasn’t enjoying life very much. I was in the pit of dispaaaiiirr. And I was throwing myself a serious pity party both on and off the blog.
Then I launched Bullied. The Forgotten Memoirs. And in the launch of it as well as the immediate aftermath of that, something suddenly disappeared from within me. Some burden I’d been carrying for twenty years just… vanished. Some demon that constantly whispered, you’re not lovable, you don’t deserve love, and those who say they love you are lying. Some demon that internalized everything. Some demon that made me insecure and easily hurt. Whatever demon it was, the beautiful encouragement and kind words of those who read the bullying post exorcised it. Vanquished it. Annihilated it.
It was as if I suddenly saw the entire world, and those within it, in a new light. And I wasn’t as hated, and loathed, and despised as I always felt. The mistakes and horriblenesses of my past didn’t define me like I thought they did. It was a truth I could finally accept.
Days before, I had written my ranting post A letter. To whoever. In that post, I defended myself and the position that I was in. I was really down when I wrote that post. I was really feeling like the majority of the world hated me. I think you all could really feel it because you responded with some of the greatest morale building comments I think I’ve ever received.
In that letter, I wrote the following paragraph.
So why? Why is it that so many people hate Single Dad Laughing? Why is it that so many people feel a need to impugn it, to attack the intelligence of my readers, and to slander my writing? Why is it that so many people feel a need to destroy me where they can? It has been that way since this blog first went viral. Why?
Man, I was really down that day.
And since the day that I published my memoirs, I have only been able to look at that paragraph and think, why did I believe that in that moment? Why did I think that in that moment?
There were tens of thousands logging onto Single Dad Laughing, reading it, following along. There were hundreds of comments pouring in showing love and support.
Yet, I was getting sucked into a very small group of posts elsewhere (as well as the aftermath of those posts) and letting it trump everything I actually had that was beautiful and positive in my life. Everything that was happening here. I let it trump the beautiful reality of how loved I really am by the people who actually follow along here.
I went back and reread some of those “hate-posts” written by other people. They weren’t that bad, if I’m being honest. They weren’t really hateful. Bitter maybe, but not hateful. More than anything, they were just negatively opinionated. Something every blogger is allowed to do.
I then went back and read some of the comments on those posts. I think that’s where I’ve always gotten the most down… when somebody, somewhere, posts something negative about Single Dad Laughing and I go to read the comments and there’s a ton of comments from people saying “I agree!” “I can’t stand Single Dad Laughing!” etc. To scroll down a list of comments 30, 40, 50 deep and see nobody standing up for me, nobody saying “I love him.” “I read him.” “I don’t agree with what you’ve written here.” Yes, I think that’s what always sucks me down. Far more than the original posts ever did.
And this time when I went back and read some of those comments, I was like eh, who cares.
And that was a pretty dang significant moment for me.
I’ve never been able to honestly think those words. Not in regards to the response to this blog, anyway.
And then, for the first time ever, I was able to see those posts and those comments in a positive light. What does it actually mean that those posts and comments exist at all? What does it really say about me?
It says that I am loved. Somewhere, I am loved. It says that I am respected. Somewhere, I am respected. It says that I am doing something, somewhere that’s good.
Why have I never understood that? How is it that I’ve never gotten that?
Simple. Because I absorbed everything. I internalized everything. And I projected everything. The good and the bad.
And when you’re a guy like me with a blog like this, absorbing, projecting, and internalizing everything will take you on a serious mental and emotional roller coaster. It’ll take you on a straight-jacket crazy-man roller coaster. I wish everybody could experience it.
So what exactly do the haters hate so much, anyway? Not me. Not even this blog.
They’re just doing the exact same thing I myself was guilty of. Internalizing. Projecting. Lashing out to make themselves feel better about… something. What that something was, I’m sure, is different for every single person out there.
To some degree, this blog has always been partially owned by the haters and the trolls. I’ve written so much of what I’ve written, worried in the back of my mind about what they’ll say and how they’ll respond. Worried about thwarting the bullies. Worried about hiding from the bullies.
But I don’t care anymore.
And that feels awesome.
I’m sure my demons will creep back from time to time. But I really don’t care anymore. It’s time I actually make this blog my own.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing