I would like to just walk away from this, but it sticks in my heart and mind, the charge that I am a bully. Look inside myself—anonymous, and one not-so -nonymous, commenters said to me. If they are saying I’m a bully and they know many, many people who agree, then it must be so. Their feelings are valid. (Okay, they also accuse me of a having a “chronic need” for validation and recognition, which I think is a bit ironic.)
I did look inside myself and couldn’t find the bully they described. But I found it hard to write a blog post. Nothing seemed to get through the fog. The more I told myself to let go, the harder it was to think of something else. It was kind of like when I was a kid on Christmas Eve and the grown ups told me that Santa wouldn’t come until I fell asleep—and then I tried to fall asleep.
I just couldn’t get the voices of the chorus out of my body, mind, heart, and psyche. I had no idea what to do with that energy.
So, I set on a quest to understand what it was I needed to let go of.
Betrayal? That was painful, but that healed.
Anger? As always, that one subsides with time.
The hope that things could have been different? Almost there.
And then, I found it, lurking in my genetic conditioning—what I need to let go of: guilt and shame. Guilt for believing that I am entitled to be recognized for my accomplishments and shame for voicing it.
I will readily admit that the most painful thing for me is when someone willfully doesn’t “hear” me.
I will also readily admit that not being heard is a deeply rooted wound for me. I believe that when that happens, I attempt again and again to be heard, increasing the desperation and then the volume, as if either will solve the problem. I become relentless in my attempt to be heard.
I suspect my relentlessness is what is being translated as bullying. It is perceived as hostility, but really, it’s anger. I would say that willfully not hearing someone is a hostile act—a passively hostile act. I suspect that the decision to willfully not hear is a defense mechanism, one that might not even be conscious. It’s probably reflexive.
But that’s the other person. The question for me is: why the relentless pursuit to be heard when it’s clear that the person either doesn’t have the ears that are capable of hearing or just doesn’t think it’s important to hear me.
There is that niggling voice inside me that preaches guilt: who am I to expect to be heard—it is after all, just me.
So, really, I end up yelling at my own guilt. It’s the most useless form of guilt ever created by humans—a guilt for which there is no way out, because there is no reason to feel guilty to begin with. It is our birthright to feel entitled to our own life.
If gilding the lily means giving something a deceptively attractive or improved appearance, then I think guilt over feeling entitled to one’s own life is “guilting the lily.”
I don’t think we need to do either with our lives.
In defense of my relentlessness, it was my relentless pursuit to have writing as an art integrated into Art Happens that got Storied Nights established. I continued pursuing that goal when other writers who wanted a venue for recognition of all forms of writing gave up. Tricky thing, it is, the strength that can also be your weakness.