Since starting publicly sharing my thoughts and experiences, I have received tremendous support. People I have known for years but we were never friends but also complete strangers reached out to me to share their story and their thoughts. Some of them were on the more harsh side but kept it respectful so I wasn’t offended. And then there were the following comments I got:
2. “1 *clap* child *clap* LOL ” referring to my post about my struggle with balancing work and motherhood before deciding to be a stay-at-home mom. (here)
The minute I read them, I felt offended. Feeling offended was my first reaction. It was like someone was judging my level of sadness/struggle and it was not enough. I never got such comments before so I did not know how to handle it. I know that celebrities have haters and get nasty comments all the time. But I am just sharing my own experiences because writing helps me deal with what I am feeling/thinking and because it might help somebody else too. I never thought they would raise such comments. I was naive.
It seems that some people have their own definition of what qualifies for sadness, struggle, happiness. They compare what you are experiencing with what they are experiencing and if it’s more or less than theirs then they cannot relate. Which is completely understandable in a sense? But what about respect? We don’t have to understand something to respect it.
The second reaction was guilt. I felt guilty because I have a child so I cannot feel sad as long as he is healthy and happy. I felt guilt because I have a child?! Who even am I and what happened to that strong woman in me? How can one comment from a complete stranger affect me that much?
The third reaction was to get defensive. Yes, I have one child but that does not mean it is a walk in the park. My whole life got upside down. He now IS my whole life. Ok now that I am thinking about it, it actually is a walk in the park comparing to having 2-3 children but it is the way she said it that it was unacceptable. And I just noticed that I fell into the trap of comparing too.
Comparison is the thief of joy. I think I wrote it again in one of my posts. Apart from the thief of joy, it is also the biggest obstacle in understanding what somebody else is going through/feeling because we compare it with what we are going through and it does not suffice to understand why they are feeling what they are feeling. For things we do not understand, we cannot feel compassion. But respect must always be there. Respect can and must exist no matter what.
My fourth (and final, I hope) reaction was to write this post. Because that is what I do now. I write. I do not have the most amazing writing style, some things may not even be clear (especially in this post, it got me confused too at some point) and I now know to expect judgy comments for this too but let’s all try to be more respectful.
We can all be sad. We can all be happy. We do not experience the same things but we all have feelings and we have every right to feel what we need to feel and talk about it. Let’s respect that.