You know what I stealth style got good at in the last year? Walking the fuck away. (No I’m not talking about when my heart gets broken, obviously. Obviously, when my heart gets broken, I’m going to wrap myself against the gritty doorstep of my care’s cracked façade and cry till I leak mucous from my eye sockets and then be re-brokenhearted when that doesn’t make whatever I lost come back. Obviously.) But that extreme aside, somewhere between the embers of my steadily fueled Medium habit and my full blown Facebook requirements, I stopped needing to resolve every little shitsicle of a contention that flicked its way across my path.
I remember when I first started here. I’d just told an old family friend that if he could manage to not use my real name in places where I wasn’t using my real name, that would be great THANKS, and was told that I was arrogant and over sensitive and then laughed at. I both blocked and reported him. I was upset about it. I didn’t sleep for a few nights, I was shaky, I didn’t want to talk to anyone online ever again. I remember being relieved that the family of writers I fell into was such a protective, fierce lot, because I needed a community like that to help me walk the lines of blocking people and not dissolving into sadness that blocking another human is a thing we have to do sometimes.
I remember my first troll, some nadless dribbleshit whose comment I barely read before blocking in a quaking panic.
I remember vehemently disagreeing with folks and then…falling asleep that night. I’d feel my heart race as I typed my comments and worry that everything would explode all over my face, say my ish anyway, and then breathe as my heart slowed. I realized that I wasn’t afraid of disagreement, even if the person on the other end of it was a large chunk of my soul.
I remember getting asked squinky questions and…not even answering them. I didn’t even hesitate as I skipped away; these folks are not my people. They show up out of nowhere with a fuckbunny question and I am not sorry that I will not answer it. It isn’t hard to spot a troll.
I remember getting comments from people I adore and respect, and needing to answer them all right away dammit! because always always be there for the people you love. (Or, whatever, hope their doorstep isn’t a gritty boogery disaster mess.) I remember being worried that they wouldn’t see me in my words and I’d have to be someone else because I couldn’t write well enough to make my intent plain.
And then, months later, I decided to wait. I had a lot of comments that day, and I wanted to get in a groove answering them; I thought if I did them all at once, I would find a rhythm, and my writing would be better for it. It didn’t even occur to me to panic about all the hours that would pass before I got around to answering everyone.
I am able to walk away. Which sounds small, because jesus fuck, walk away if you need to, right? I’ve never been able to authentically skip off; there’s always a backward glance or seven and often a quick trot right back to the nucleus of whatever puddle I’ve tried to sidestep. Not anymore. If I am not in a place to deal with a thing, then I let myself not deal with it. It sounds small, but it isn’t because walking away means I trust myself to know how I care. It means I trust myself to know that if I need to return to it, I will, without guilt or external obligation.
It means that I have allowed myself to be a whole person, I have let go the notion that my interacting with all other people is a grade on my character that will decide if I am worthwhile.
And it leaves me free to interact with the reckless abandon I try to smear across my every action.