I’m sitting here at my computer, feeling a bit dumbfounded. As I read the words on my screen, chills run up my back, and goosebumps start prickling up my arm.
I can not believe the words I’m reading about me, about my life.
Anger starts to creep in.
As a blogger, I’m used to some negative comments and internet “trolls”. It’s part of the job.
Most of the time, I don’t mind the backlash. It makes me stronger, it helps me get a better understanding about my own misconceptions or how I present information.
I try to look past the hurtful words and see how I could improve.
But this morning, I’m struggling with the what’s being said.
Even though no one is calling me names, or being overly negative about things, my words have been skewed. My life situation has been negated by others.
I am being told that the hard parts of my life aren’t worth talking about.
My “hard” isn’t “hard enough”.
It all started with my post The Art of Solo Parenting: Thriving While Your Spouse is Away.
In it, I share how I have struggled since my husband has been gone, and give some tips for other parents have to “solo parent” while their spouse is away.
Here is just some of the feedback I received:
“For those of us who are truly, 100% solo-single-on-our-own parenting, this is upsetting to read.”
“This is so whiny and insulting to moms who actually do it all.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me right!?!? I’m a single mother. I’M A SOLO PARENT!! Everyday of the year. Your spouse being away is not you being a solo parent.”
“I’m sorry, I’m going to vent. There are plenty of mothers “solo parenting” every day who have to hold down a full time job while doing so. Her husband may be physically away, but she gets to be a SAHM in his absence and not bear the financial burden of single parenting as well!”
These are the nice ones. I refuse to share and give power to the really mean ones.
Not once in my post did I share how much worse I have it than single parents. Not once did I even mention single parents. All I did was share my life experiences with having a husband who is gone for an extended period of time, and how I cope.
What really bothers me is that I’m being told that my situation isn’t bad, and that I should shut up because others have it worse.
This situation reminds me of a TED talk I heard last year from Ash Beckham called “We’re All Hiding Something, Let’s Find The Courage to Open Up”. In it, she says these words:
“Hard is not relative. Hard is hard. Who can tell me that explaining to someone you’ve just declared bankruptcy is harder than telling someone you just cheated on them? Who can tell me that his coming out story is harder than telling your five-year-old you’re getting a divorce? There is no harder, there is just hard. We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better or worse about our closets and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard.“
That is how I feel about the feedback I got from that post.
We need to just understand that hard is just hard and that we are all trying our best to cope.
All over the place people are constantly trying to “one up” each other. People almost seem to enjoy negating other’s feelings and life situations by telling them to “shut up” and “quit complaining” because they have it harder.
Who are we to say what’s hard enough to talk about? Where is the judge that says “yep, that’s bad enough that it can be talked about”? Who gets to decide what’s hard?
When someone steps out and talks about their hard battle, they should not be ridiculed for not having it “hard enough”. And, most importantly, their hard time does not negate the battles that others are fighting.
I share my story to help connect people together, to help people who are going through similar situations, not to make people who have it harder feel bad.
My story does not negate your story.
My story is my story, and yours is yours. Let’s embrace them and support one another, instead of comparing who has it harder.
We all have a different story.
We all have different life experiences.
And, we all fight hard battles.
I urge you to think and do these two things.
1. Stop negating other’s battles. We are all struggling with something. Approach others with kindness and love and stop making people feel less than because you have it harder.
You might be able to see the great things in someone’s life who is struggling. You can see that woman living in the big house you can’t afford and can’t understand why she’s complaining. You can see that I do have a husband and should be grateful even when he’s gone for months at a time.
Instead of telling her to be “grateful” or to “be quiet, it’s not that bad”, recognize that she’s struggling.
We all have different battles, but we are all fighting.
Remember that you too have struggled and have had to do hard things. Remember those feelings. Look at her as a person who needs support during her struggle, no matter how big or small her battle is.
Approach with kindness. Approach with love.
Instead of ridiculing, say “I’m sorry that you are having a hard time.”
Look past what she has, and see the person.
2. Share your hard. Share your battles. Don’t hide in your closet, afraid to tell your truth. Like Ash says in her talk:
“At some point in our lives, we all live in closets, and they may feel safe, or at least safer than what lies on the other side of that door. But I am here to tell you, no matter what your walls are made of, a closet is no place for a person to live.”
Come out and share your story. I guarantee you’ll get someone who’ll say “me too”, and that is where healing and acceptance begins.
I always look for ways to improve when I get negative comments on my writing, but the only thing that would make the people commenting on my post happy is if I just shut up. And, I will not shut up. I will not be quiet because in the middle of all that negativity on my post, there was acceptance. There were people writing comments like this.
“How I needed to read this tonight of all nights! What an amazing blog post to pop up in my FB feed – I swear I read this with my mouth open wide in shock. What you wrote in this post describes my day-to-day life while my hubs is out of the country. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone and the hardships and down times I experience are also shared by other fellow Mammas out there who get it.”
I will not be quiet because there are parents out there going through similar situations, and also being told to be quiet and thankful for what they have. Those are the people I’m writing for.
That’s not true. I write for everyone. I write not only for those who “get it” but also for those that don’t. I hope that my words help people understand a different story, so that maybe they’ll approach someone they know who’s going through that situation with a bit more understanding and compassion.
So NO, I will not stop writing my story because it’s not hard enough. I will not be quiet because others have it worse.
I will not be silenced out of fear of hurting others who are hurting more. I will love and support them, just like I hope they will love and support me.
Life is hard my friends, let’s not make it harder on each other.
Share your story, love your story, it’s okay if you don’t think your hard isn’t hard enough. Tell it anyway.
Your story matters. YOU matter.