17 years ago a friend of my mother’s made an off-hand comment to me. I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and she commented that my arms were flabby. I’ve been embarrassed to wear a sleeveless shirt ever since.

And I suppose this wouldn’t matter, but I have a hot pink dress hanging in my closet. I haven’t worn it yet, although I know it will look great, because it’s sleeveless. I keep meaning to buy a black wrap to wear with it. I haven’t bought the wrap, so I don’t wear the dress.

And you might reasonably ask, rather like I have, why we give words such tremendous power. I’m quite sure that Vicky doesn’t remember what she said to me. I’m equally sure she didn’t mean for those words to stay with me for 17 years. Of all of the words she has said to me over the years, I suspect that she would be a bit horrified to think those have stayed with me. I suspect she would be sad to know that most often when I think of her, I think of those words.

I had someone leave a comment here today, and those words have stayed with me all night. I have mulled over them entirely too much, given them entirely too much space. I don’t know what the motivation was behind those words. This isn’t the first troll I’ve had, but it surprised me. It was such an innocent post: I really did look at old photo’s of myself on Thursday night, and I was really surprised at how much my face had changed with my weight loss. Yes, I see the numbers on the scale go down, but suddenly I saw what 40 pounds really was.

The comment indicated that I spend entirely too much time talking about losing weight. The commenter suggested that I spend time either bragging about how wonderful my life is, or whinging about how bad it is. She used the words ‘pity party’. Then the commenter suggested that I was boring.

I’m not sure what to say. My son died. We have chosen to live without children. Those facts are inescapably hard. Those facts carry some weight and a lot of emotion behind them. Those facts mean that sometimes I feel sorry for myself. My work life is chaotic and difficult. I’m on the road a lot, I work a lot. I love what I do, but I won’t lie, this project is wearing on me.

And equally, I like my life. Oh, not always. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes I am struckย  by how incredibly fortunate I am. I am married to a man who adores me. I work at a job that I love, which pays well and is rewarding. I love my home. I have good friends. I have a great mum. I have animals that love me. I love my neighbourhood.

And as for the allegation that I’m boring? Yep, I am. I live a very ordinary life. Gabriel’s death was extraordinary, it’s effects far reaching, but my life is very ordinary. I work, I go out with friends, I curl up in bed beside my husband. I cook, I knit, I garden. Those aren’t inherently exciting things. My life is no different than most other people’s. I’m trying to get by, the same as you are.

My blog is a diary of sorts, just a more public one. I write about what I know, and what I know is ordinary life. I write about what strikes me, about what I love. I write about the every day. I’m sorry if you don’t like that. I would still write even if no one read me. I write because I have written almost every day for 3 years. I write because it is a compunction.

There’s a dress in my closet that I won’t wear, and now, in this personal place where I record my thoughts and feelings, I suddenly wonder if I should start censoring myself. I’m not sure how I would do that, when I am accused of both self pity and self adulation. I’m not sure, how in the nexus of that, when I am boring, I can be anything other than I am.

Rather like an unworn dress, I can only be what I can be. I can only be me, flabby arms, writing about my life – a life that is at turns hard and easy, sad and joyful. I can only write my ordinary story in my own words.

Obvious, I’m sorry you wrote what you did. I’m sorry you felt the need to be disagreeable and ignoble. I’m sorry that yesterday was a bad day for you or that I hit a nerve. I didn’t mean to. I hope that amidst what you see as pity and adulation, you have seen some compassion. I know I’ve read things on other blogs and they have stepped on the very last nerve I’ve had that day. I know that I have left comments I’ve later regretted, and I know that I have walked away from my computer with gritted teeth and a bleeding tongue.

But, my blog isn’t a dress in the closet. It’s much more important than that. It’s much more fundamental, more central. I can’t stop you from commenting, I can’t stop anyone who wants to leave drive by nastiness, but I can tell you that I won’t stop writing about my life and I won’t stop writing about who I am. This is my blog. That’s all I can do.

Feel free to stop reading. I won’t be offended.ย  I will be sorry.

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33 Responses to Words

  1. Illanare says:

    Please don’t self-censor. This is your space and we are guests in your space. Anyone who doesn’t like what you write – well, they should just jog on.

  2. debby says:

    I write a column for a newspaper. I know that it can be read online, and that there is a place for comments. I don’t read my column online because 1) I wrote it and I know what it says, and 2) my business e-mail is included at the close of every column and people generally e-mail me if they wish to speak to me.

    Someone requested a link to my newspaper things, and so I gave it to them. In looking at the columns, I realized that people had been commenting. I looked at a few. I have a newspaper troll, and his name is Malachy. He has taken me to task for being an egotist, and for being too wordy, and for being self satisfied, etc.

    I was surprised, and thought about responding. I decided not to. The fact is, it is my column. My place for my words. My words are encouraging to most people and I get e-mails to that effect. Visitors to the store to meet me.

    What I decided is that really, I decide what words are important. I decided that his words were not. He is a very capable writer. He probably believes that he is far more qualified for the job that I do than I am. That is his motivation for his unkind comments. Plus, he probably has a bone to pick with me personally, because he comments on no one else’s op eds but mine.

    So I made a conscious decision to forget about his words and focus on the other words. I think that you should do that with Vicki’s words as well. She’d probably be much relieved if you would.

    Your troll? Probably fighting the same battles you fought, but not as successfully.

  3. Heidi says:

    Please don’t change who you are…I’d be lost without you.

  4. MabelB says:

    I’m really not sure what motivates trolls but their lives must be pretty sad for them to take pleasure in this sort of aggression. I enjoy your blog and look forward to your entries. I hope you don’t choose to censor your thoughts or certainly not for this reason. Wishing you health, happiness and the chance (and inclination) to wear the dress!

  5. Delenn says:

    This post. This post is why I read your blog. Your honesty and wonderful style in writing. Don’t change a word. It is how we know you.

  6. HereWeGoAJen says:

    If you were boring, I wouldn’t read your blog. You write beautifully and you are not boring.

    Someone was taking out their issues on you, I think, because I didn’t find their words to be true at all. (And I am always right, just ask my Matt.)

  7. VA Blondie says:

    Please do not censor yourself. I know that losing weight is hard, and you have a right to complain about it at times. It is also hard to notice changes in your body, as you see it every day. It is hard to live child-free not by choice, especially after loss such as yours. You are definitely allowed to complain about that.

    A blog is a personal space. I love what you have created, and really enjoy reading your blog. Please continue what you do.

  8. Ya Chun says:

    I saw that comment and thought it was pretty lame. If I had thought for one second that you would waste any time ruminating on it, I would have made a comment about how far off base I thought it was.

    I’ve lost 30 pounds, and the funny thing is that I don’t ‘feel’ skinnier, so it is surprising to me too to see the progress in picture.

    And I’ve always personally liked boring. Nothing wrong with calm waters. And your self reflection always makes me think.

    I wouldn’t still be reading if I didn’t think you were cool!

    Oh, and now you have to post a pic of you wearing your pink dress, since you teased us all!

  9. Theresa says:

    I have always seen you as an amazing writer. You put things in such simple ways. ANd aren’t we all (or most) living “boring lives” and trying to make sense of it all. I think you do a wonderful job. You are one of my favorite writers!

  10. Virginia says:

    Really, all of us “regular” people are boring, but also interesting in our own way. Anyone who doesn’t find this blog interesting doesn’t have to read it, and I don’t see a point in telling the writer of said blog that you feel she is boring. Um, pointless much?

    Don’t censor who you are, for we love who you are.

  11. Maureen says:

    Initially I was baffled by this post, and trying to figure out where it was going as I had not had a chance to read your post from yesterday or its comments.

    My first thought of the pink dress was, “Mrs. Spit lives in Edmonton. Who in their right mind who is over the age of 21 would wear a sleeveless dress without a shawl this time of year? A little bit of triceps work and I bet she would look awesome in it by the time it was weather appropriate, provided she hasn’t lost so much weight the dress doesn’t fit well anymore. I bet she could get a really good picture for her office while wearing that dress with no shawl by the summer.”

    Then I read on. I hope you don’t self censor. We, the readers, are guests here. If we don’t want to read, then we don’t have to. I don’t find your life boring, mostly ordinary, with the heaping scoop of extraordinary things to deal with (Gabriel and infertility). I also thought of the saying “You need the bitter to appreciate the sweet.” Yes, you talk about the happy and the sad in your life. That’s life.

    Write on.

  12. Aunt Deb says:

    Double Damn…..I wondered if that snarky little comment might of played on your mind. I never knew that you bloggers called these people trolls….well named. My 1st impression was that someone had a very bad day and was feeling petty. Leave it at that. Yet again we have some thing in common. When I was a teenager and had lost about 25 lbs of the 40 I need to lose, your Gramma bought me a dress that I just loved. She commented to a friend who was over, that she bought the dress because I had lost so much weight. The friend looked at me…said “she still has a lot to lose doesn’t she?” I am now 56 years old and I still remember that comment, but funny I don’t remember the lady’s name. It deserved to be lost in time…just like another undeserved comment. Your blogs make me proud of you and yes you may have the family arms…but you have two and they work. Wear the dress! (send picture) Love Aunt Deb

  13. Penbleth says:

    Your blog is beautifully written and honest. You come across as a genuine person. Don’t change how you write, or what you write, for someone else.

    Oh, and do like your Aunt Deb says and wear your pink dress. I’m sure you will look beautiful in it.

  14. Carmen says:

    I’m sorry you had such an awful comment left. I visit your space because of your honesty, and how beautifully and eloquently you write. It would be a shame to lose that because of a few nasty people. Love and hugs to you. I think you are amazing, and should wear that dress ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Carmen says:

    Ok wow – just went and read the comment. Seriously, I think ‘Obviously’ needs to find more of a life. People who have enough time to feed their negativity onto other people, need to spend that time finding more joy in their lives. I feel sad for her/him. Don’t spend one more second thinking about it Mrs. Spit. You are FAR from a snoozefest :)… and I think it’s awesome how much weight you have lost!

  16. Jamie says:

    Holy crap. What is wrong with people? This is YOUR space and you are darn well entitled to write about whatever you want here. You could write about watching water boil if you wanted.

    So what if you live a boring, ordinary life. I have a boring, ordinary life. I enjoy reading about your life because it is different from mine. I like to read your thoughts and observations.

    Mrs. Spit is my friend. And if you don’t want to be her friend, too, then go elsewhere. I have an idea – why don’t you go write about your own, extraordinary life somewhere else?

    Don’t just wear that dress, own it!!

  17. Carbon says:

    If a person can’t say whatever comes to mind about their own life in their own blog… then where can they say it?

    I used to try to censor my public bathroom noises to an extreme, until I asked myself, “Is this not the most appropriate place on earth to do business X, Y, and Z? Yes, it is.”

    Wait, I just compared blogging to using a toilet. Please don’t take that as a reflection upon your writing…

  18. Birdie says:

    I love reading your blog!!!

  19. a says:

    You make your boring, ordinary life worth reading about…

  20. Kristin says:

    Your brilliant, beautiful writing makes the ordinary into something extraordinary. Please don’t ever censor yourself.

  21. linds says:

    Don’t let one naysayer get the best of you. She is just not worth the time of your thoughts. Wear the dress, you will look fab! (And you don’t need a wrap!) (Unless it’s because you’ll be freezing, which I totally get, given the state of our current weather these days…..) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Sarah says:

    I’m with your commenters – don’t censor. Your humanity and honesty and the grace and eloquence with which you share them are beautiful, often poignant and always thoughtful and thought-provoking. Listen to the voices of those who love you.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Mrs. Spit, you are the spirit of graciousness. Love you.

  24. Jacquie says:

    The last time I checked I came here of my own free will! I read because I have long since discovered your beauty with words, your honesty, your kindness. I have discovered quite a fantstic lady!
    If that lady wants to talk about her weight loss here, well then so be it. If that lady wants to dicsuss the sky is purple, well then so be it!
    This is YOUR space do with as you will.
    Trolls need not apply!

  25. Jacquie says:

    Ooops and if your commentors want to spell things wrong, well then so be it.
    I meant “discuss” =)

  26. Barb says:

    Wow. I am beyond amazed that someone would use those words to describe you. I think you are the LAST blogger I know to whom I would put that description. And even if I found someone that did fit that description, saying so in that way is incredibly rude and undignified.

    Don’t censor.

  27. ~ap~ says:

    I understand how those words spoken so long ago still weigh on your mind… and how the ones written so recently do the same. I’m exactly the same way. Exactly! I’ve always wished I could just let go of the words that still bother me and possibly censor my words or my actions.
    That being said, I’m impressed with the grace that you’ve shown in your response to the troll. You’re a bigger person than I, I think, and an inspiration to one who tends to react before thinking.
    My last thought before sending this is that I’d really, really like to see a picture of you in that dress. *nod* ;o)

  28. anonymous says:

    It’s like TV, if you don’t like what you see, change the channel or turn it off.

    They’re probably just jealous to see someone stick to something and succeed. I try not to be so sensitive about these types of folks because as someone told me a long time ago, showing that these people hurt your feelings in a way proves they mean something to you. Which they don’t and shouldn’t.

  29. JuliaS says:

    Please don’t censor yourself. One – this is your space, and as such, you should be free to your yourself here; two – I like knowing that I’m not alone in this human experience. Sometimes I am whiny, sometimes I am pretty pleased with myself. Sometimes I’m amazing and sometimes I am slightly less than average . . . it’s all okay. I like knowing that others are the same way. I think it makes us more accessible as people.

    I love you just the way you are and would be very unhappy if you changed to try and please someone else. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  30. Barnmaven says:

    I’m sort of snickering at “Obviously.” Because, obviously, she came back to make sure her jab was felt. And she will be back, I guarantee it. People like that usually are. They can’t help themselves.

    I’ve been reading you for a few months now. I don’t have much in common with you (well, except I’ve lost weight too) but the reason I keep coming back and reading your blog is because of your enormous talent for writing. You make small things, everyday things, seem special, more valuable and notable. You capture the briefest moments of thought and backlight them…bring them forward and into focus. You have grace and beauty flowing through your keyboard onto this screen, and I feel so sorry for “Obvious” that he or she is unable to simply enjoy the breathtaking beauty of what you write.

  31. Niki says:

    How dare someone say that? I am ashamed and embarrassed for the person who said those things. I think you are a beautiful writer and I enjoy what you write. I like your brutal honesty and respect you for it. It’s your space and yours alone, so you should continue to use it as you see fit. Honestly if this person finds your writing and life to be boring then why are they reading yoru blog? I say screw the trolls and don’t let the them steal one more second of your precious energy!

  32. Nicole says:

    Sheesh…I’m mad for you right now. What a jerk of a person! I still stick by the old adage – if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all! I enjoy reading your blog. I enjoy hearing your opinions, thoughts, feelings, etc. It seems like most others do too. I say overlook the OBVIOUSLY miserable person.

    Now, onto flabby arms…yeah, that’s me. I actually wear a sweater/cardigan with anything sleeveless. I live in the south and it gets hot in the summer, but I just can’t help it. I can’t bear to let my arms be out there in all their glory! My husband tells me to just get over it, but it’s a long-standing self conscious thing.

    Thank you for your blog. Thank you for your comments on mine. Thank you for being brave enough to share these private thoughts and feelings with the world. It’s helping people, and that’s admirable.

    Sending love and prayers your way!

  33. Stacey says:

    People love your blog — I love your blog — because it is uncensored and it is you; it’s honest and it’s real. This blog is a true reflection of your life and the way you see the extraordinary in the ordinary. If you’re human, then you’ll have good days and bad days. (That seems pretty obvious to me.) Don’t change who you are or how you write because of some snippy comment!

    And… show off those arms!

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