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February 11, 2008

Comments

The comments are closed and will remain so for... I don't know. A while. I wasn't even going to mention it because it seems like such a weird thing to talk about and anyone who has read this site for any amount of time knows I only talk about high-level stuff like cat poop and traffic. It's just a good thing for me right now and while I have a whole list of reasons, none of them will make sense to anyone but the four people who know me personally and know what's going on with my life.

One thing I will say is that I am not super-human or even particularly well-developed in many ways. I'm just a normal woman who lives her life. I don't handle constant criticism well. I'm sensitive and not very hardened when it comes to taking personal assessments of my character from complete strangers. Unfortunately, when people leave critical remarks or tell me "I used to like reading you and now I feel distant from you" I have no idea what to do with that sort of thing. It makes me sad, or upset, or defensive and yet I don't even know that person. They don't know me. And a bad comment (even after I delete it, which I often do) can linger with me for days, I carry it with me like a personal failure. It feels as if I just didn't do a good enough job but in some unknown way that I can't quite fix, always and forever not being enough for someone.

Sometimes I found myself becoming sad and defensive about things people would say, and those are not qualities I really want to develop in my personality. You know?

I thought I could fix myself but I realized somewhere along the way it's not my job to "fix" me to be pleasing to all others. I don't want to grow thick skin and bite at people and be defensive. I don't want to stop using words I like because some crazy person feels I have ruined feminism. I like being me, dorky and soft and emotional. I have to do the best I can with what I have ... and your best is really good enough. The most important thing I think I've figured out is that I don't have to do it all by committee.

If I write a story about a guy at the public library looking at porn and refer to him as a dirty old man, I really just want to tell the story. I don't want somebody finger-wagging me that I'm being horrible and ageist and a terrible person who called him "old" and I should reconsider what words can do. Or when someone feels the need to inform me they believe I have no self-esteem because of some off-handed remark I made to a stranger at a booksigning (and here I was feeling good for finding something, anything, to say to 800 strangers) or when people comment they don't like me or how I look or the horoscopes or they think I have somehow changed or just all of it. It's disconcerting, because of course I change and of course you don't know me, and you change too, and I just like to tell stories. I love to write and I will keep doing it even if no one reads a word. But I'm not sure the comments are helping me do that. Instead, I see that I'm getting more and more private and closed off because I know that whatever I say there will be people who will tell me a different way to say it, do it, live it, be it.

Maybe it's really kind of simple: It feels bad when strangers say upsetting things to me. And it's making me really guarded. Which is making me only want to post cat pictures with song names as titles.

It's not that I have come down with a case of Upptyness or that I don't like you or that you smell. It is more likely that I smell. This whole wild ride has been positive for me in just as many ways and I am grateful to every person who shared with me, and I have read every single comment ever posted here on this website. I clicked on your links and read about you, too, and I know that sometimes I will definitely want to give away some weird-ass self-help books and we'll have comment free-for-alls.

It's just the right decision for me at this time, better than quitting writing a website altogether ... which I think would be impossible, I'd just secretly open up some new writing place and not tell anyone who I am.

Of course, I'd have to spell "ya'll" differently, or surely I would be outed for my spelling. Ya'll know.

Posted by laurie at February 11, 2008 11:42 AM