Fear & Loathing in my inbox
I don't get hate mail often...and I generally don't share ANY private correspondences, but felt like I wanted to share a recent exchange I had to talk about what motivates people to write things like this:
Let's start with the obvious... My website, and writings, are a trigger for this person. Something pushed a button in them that made them NEED to put time, energy, and emotion into writing me. They want to convince me that I don't have anything to offer, and that I look foolish...
Fear is often dressed up as criticism. It's an attempt to make something we are afraid of go away. The reference in all caps is interesting, as it seems to project a fear of intimacy...do I know how naked I look in all my misery? Yes, sharing some of my intimate thoughts and lessons of personal growth is a baring of the soul...a nakedness if you will. But all this person sees it as is painful (misery). For those who crave intimacy, but also fear it, it is a painful place to be...yes, between a rock and a hard spot.
But this person is likely in pain for more than just that... The other criticisms about my intellect or age might also soft spots in their own sense of self-worth (this could even be a woman...I would not doubt it). Not that there isn't room to criticize my thinking or thought processes (not sure how age is supposed to be a detriment as used here...other than it being a standard insult towards women?), but most opinions, good or bad, are projections of what is going on in our own heads at the time. How we view the world gets applied in our opinions, as well as our emotions. These are both signposts we can use to check in with ourselves, as well as others.
When I read this, the first thing I thought was-this person is in deep pain. To take the time to write this takes not only time, but energy and emotion...I could almost feel how it must have felt for them when writing this, and none of this makes me think they were feeling good... I can empathize, as I have written similar types of letters when I have also been in pain, not even realizing it sometimes... (although I've never written notes like this to complete strangers).
At another time in my life, I might have gotten sucked in to this person's misery. At another time, I might have allowed their energy to merge with mine, and been triggered to react in return. At another time I might have boiled with anger and hatred over this unknown person criticizing me.
But TODAY I understand my responses and emotions to be a compass about my quality of life. How I respond to others has to do with ME, and how I choose to process information. Challenges and suffering I experience are the flags that tell me where I need to pay attention, and where I need to do some work within. I now know I can transform suffering into whatever I want, once I take the time to understand it. And when I am paying attention, I try to transform it into something that feels good, and supports my sense of purpose.
I wish someone would have explained some of this to me when I was younger, as for most of my life I have believed emotions to be a hard truth instead of a the mirror reflecting back at me. This has led me to act and react in ways that created deep suffering, for myself as well as others. My hope is that by sharing some of this, it might help others who suffer similarly see options for transformation.
Today I am proud of all of the work I have done, and continue to do, to make my individual life better, and this in turn shifts my interactions with the world around me to be hopefully for the better too. Yes, I could have deleted and blocked this person, but I chose a response I hope might surprise them, or make them think? Maybe not right now, but maybe it plants a seed...
May we all find patience and presence when difficult interactions arise, and remember that we all are struggling in our own way, at our own pace, to find our own sense of peace.