Never read the comments: A memoir
When I was writing Date Me, D.C.!, I amassed a fair amount of, for lack of a better word, trolls. For the most part, they were men who took umbrage at me being a woman in the world who poked a bit of fun at the lame dudes* I was going out with. In 2018 terminology, we might assume these men were part of the "incel" community. They made it their mission to tell me that I'm ugly (in fact, I think part of the reason they unleashed so much vitriol at me was that they believed I was not attractive enough to lob any sort of criticism at the male persuasion), slutty and stupid. That I'd ridden the "cock carousel" and that no one would ever love me. That I was fat before and I'd be fat again.
They said all of it with such conviction -- like reciting a psalm in church. They believed every hateful word they spewed out in the comments. And you know what? I didn't want to, but I kind of believed them too.
In fact, to this day, I still do. Those comments embedded themselves into the crevices of my brain. Every time I look in the mirror, I see a "buck-toothed loser." (That particular comment eats away at me even eight years after it was originally posted.) Also, they were right about me being fat again. I lost weight in 2008, and have steadily gained a lot of it back. Not all of it by any means -- I went from a size 20/22 to a size 10, and have now settled into a body that is a size 14 -- but I can't help but absolutely hate myself every time I have to buy new pants.
I hate that they were right.
2018 has been a hard year for me for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being that R and I have thus far been unsuccessful in reproducing. Every month brings a new disappointment. I'm watching the clock and worrying about how much harder a pregnancy will be on me due to my age with every day that passes, not to mention worrying if this is ever going to happen for me at all. It feels like my body is betraying me.
That feeling would be awful enough. But it's made worse by old comments ringing in my ears about how all the dates I was going on (read: my promiscuity) would result in me not being able to be a mother.
Of course, I didn't start doubting myself with the comments I received in 2009. My self-loathing spans decades before that and has continued well after. I think women are taught in so many ways that a healthy dose of disdain for one's self is just a part of the process. (Do men feel this way? Is it just in America, or is this worldwide?)
But I keep hearing those old blog comments because they put such a fine point on all the things that were nebulously bothering me. They zeroed in on my insecurities like SEAL Team Six snipers.
I suppose in some ways it's my own fault for being such an open book in an online format. I put myself out there. I created a forum where they could leave anonymous comments in the first place. Luckily, the Wix.com platform doesn't allow you to do that, so I have an uneasy truce with the internet for now.
I don't know what the solution is. These insecurities are not going away, and because 2018 has been so tough on me, it's like the criticism is even louder than it would have been otherwise. When things are going well, I can silence the voices a bit. When things aren't great, they're deafening. There are very few days lately that I don't at least feel like breaking down.
I can only hope that 2019 will turn things around for me a little bit. Work has taken a slightly new direction, and it's a promising one. R and I will be on a different insurance plan starting in January, so I hope we can work around our infertility.
Maybe then the only thing I'll have left to beat myself up about is that I don't have a good ending planned for this blog post.
*For what it's worth, I made a point to write about the men I was going out with in the most general of terms so that they weren't personally identifiable, and I always, always, ALWAYS called myself out on my own bullshit.