This morning I woke up excited. Feeling good. And like many mornings, in the quiet moment before my little one woke up, I looked at my Facebook.
And got a nasty surprise. A nasty comment, to be exact. One in which a family member of mine found a picture of my newborn daughter from a few years ago and called me a bitch.
Bummer, right? What a great way to start the day.
I’ve shared in previous posts that I came from a dysfunctional home. It’s a story that feels too sad to relive right now, but one that involves a lot of substance abuse, relational abuse, and just plain bad behavior.
And if you’ve come from a similar home, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s a hard story to have, and I’ve spent much of my life wishing it wasn’t my story. Wishing I had family members who were stable enough to love me and be kind to me.
But we don’t always get what we want in life. Sometimes you have to survive and find a way to do better with your own life when you get the chance.
But here’s perhaps the hardest part of the story. Sometimes, the more healthy you strive to become, the more vicious the abusive people can become. It’s an awful sort of yin yang in family life. And that’s when the rubber really meets the road.
When you’re a person who’s been abused, the meanness of others can infiltrate your mind. It can knit itself into the fabric of your brain. Until their hateful, screeching voices start to sound like your own inside your head.
Then it becomes a lifelong journey to dissect the fibers, remove the illness, and plant something pure in its place.
In all honesty, this is the journey of my life. Unlearning abuse and learning love.
But the cyber bullying is something new to my experience. Maybe I was too old when the internet came out to have had the experience of people trolling my content to find inlets of hate. It sucks, and it’s not okay.
Unfortunately, to a large degree, we have created an online society and a social framework for abusive people to run free. And if grown-ups are doing this despicable behavior, then I can only imagine what kids are doing in all the nooks and crannies their parent can’t detect.
Part of living a free, whole, healthy life is standing up to abuse. It is naming it and reclaiming its real estate and learning to say no. And the internet is part of that real estate.
I have lived long enough to know that there are people in the world who are mean. Who don’t care about the destructive force of their words and spend their precious moments on this earth causing hurt and pain to the people around them. It’s just the way it is.
But I think we have more power that we think. Power to say, Not here. Not in this space. Not on my lawn, not in my home, and not in my head.
Together we can take back that real estate. We can get the deed to the building and unlock the gates corroded shut with hate and fear. We can let the ground breathe and plant something beautiful.
And hang a sign over the door that says, “Abuse doesn’t live anymore. But love does.”