Sticks and stones
Davina wrote an inspiring blog post about being hurt, how she had let it affect her and hold her back for four years, and how she’s now pushing past it to carry on with her photography work. Someone trashed her, tried to ruin her reputation and her business, and it devastated her. The old playground taunt, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a bald-faced lie. Words hurt as much as sticks and stones do.
Replace the word “photography” with what I do, and she could have written that post about me. The hurt didn’t come from a fellow professional in my case, but from my family of origin (my FOO).
The last email I received from a member of my abusive family (after I cut off contact to put an end to their abuse) was scathing, vile, and totally devastating. They had to get in one last beating, and I let it affect me, just as Davina did with hers.
One of the things my family’s email said was “Stop telling people how to live their lives. It’s not your job.” Well, coaching/advising is what they PAY me to do. That IS my job. When someone hires me to edit their book, they are asking for my professional opinion and expertise. The things I coach about don’t apply to every area of their lives, but thinking that I try to run people’s lives is just part of my family’s warped perspective.
They stomped on everything I hold dear, from my religion to my children and all in between. They attacked everything except my looks (which tells me that they believed I’m not vain at all, or they would have made fun of me that way, too). Any area they could assault with written words, they stabbed and threw acid. I wanted to get past the hurt and help others more, but it was hard. Sticks and stones.
Even when things could be worded much better and spelled correctly (I don’t fault them for that, I’m the writer in the family, and like I said, they always brought to me the things that had to be written because they were no good at it), it may be helpful to examine it.
Most criticism has some truth to it. I’ve known that for decades now, so after the initial shock of being hit in the chest with a swinging baby grand piano, I looked for any veracity in what they said. I found a few warped and twisted slivers. Over time, I found a few more. I owned my part of the problem, ignored the 90% that was DROSS and tried to put that printed bomb behind me.
Effects of trauma
Because of the campaign to ruin my reputation and business (and it did do damage; I lost some lucrative clients over the facebook messages my FOO sent to my contact list), I was hesitant to put myself out there too much. What if they came back at me and did it again?
I prayed that they had found something else to turn their attention to besides the “smear me” campaign, but I couldn’t be sure. People who have too much time on their hands and a belly full of hate… you just never know. Much as I might say positive things, try to look at things objectively (I’m not very good at that), it affected me.
Life got in the way for a while, and I didn’t stuggle quite as hard as I could have to keep it from doing that.
I homeschool my children, for mulitple reasons (not all of which I am willing to get into). I also have several chronic illnesses and the fatigue and managing the sheer volume of medications can wipe me out (and no, Mom, none for mental illness; I’m the only mentally healthy one in your segment of the family).
Why didn’t I shove things aside and accomplish my goals? Part of it was my responsibilities. Remember, I will never tell you to neglect your family. Someone has to do the cooking and the cleaning and the caring for everyone, and while I’ll never say it has to be you, it usually is you.
But part of it was fear.
Fear of what my FOO would do to me next, fear of what some people around me would say if I did, and, yes, even fear of success: impostor syndrome. Would I be able to handle an influx of business? I didn’t want to get hurt any more, so I let it add to what was holding me back.
I think lots of people do that. I spent a few years afraid to put my offers out there, for fear that my family would come along and trash me in public, saying I don’t know enough to be helping writers, even though they all came to me for help for years. And you know what? They still might shred me, but I can’t let myself be stopped by the fear of what those to-be-pitied people might do. I gradually came out of hiding, too, but now is the time to really get going.
Get past the hurt and help others.
Now is the time to reach out to the people who are supportive, the people who care about me, and to offer the things I do best. It’s time to get past the hurt and help others. I have removed from my life the ones who want to use and abuse me or keep me down and discourage me from using the talents God gave me. Am I perfect, or even close? Not in this lifetime. Do I care deeply for people and do I have something valuable to offer them? You bet your boots.
You have been hurt, too. Does it keep you back? Does it still pop up and sting your eyes? Do you live with the fear that it might happen again? If there is any way I can help, support, or encourage you, I’d be honored to do that. Just let me know. Here’s to healing the hurts!
If you want to connect with someone who can feel your pain, understand and support your dreams, take your hand and walk with you toward them, contact Jennifer today.