Savage Correction

I got some harsh negative feedback about my writing today. The person who gave it is someone I’ve heard from before, and she is never hesitant to say what she thinks. Sometimes her comments are low-key, even passive-aggressive; other times she just lets loose on me. Today she pulled out all the stops.


She warmed up by attacking my reasons for beginning to write. She told me that I’m deluding myself in thinking that my words can help anyone else; that this whole project is only a fancy way for me to be self-absorbed and try to make myself look better. She said my opinions will never be taken seriously by anyone because I am not a licensed therapist. She accused me of trying to use this writing (also known as this waste of bandwidth) to hide the truth of my worthlessness.

Moving on, she described in great detail the amounts and types of (in her words) “real suffering” in the world and how pathetic it is that I am doing nothing about them. In a tirade of images and words, she bombarded me with thoughts of hunger, homelessness, war, rape and oppression of all kinds. My stomach knotted and shame rose into my throat as her voice rang in my ears, describing my struggles as “fucking First World problems.”

Sensing the gap in my defenses, she dove in and began to turn things more personal. Even if my passion is a worthy one, she said, I’m completely incapable of serving it. She said I haven’t really changed; not where it counts, and soon I will prove it by failing. She pronounced that I will, without doubt, betray the trust of any who come to think well of me. Dripping with disdain, her sneering voice described how I will be just another story of a brief improvement followed by a return to the status quo, leaving behind loved ones hurt more by the withdrawal of hope given.

Her closing argument centered on the “you might as well” theme. Since I’m doomed to fail, go insane, relapse and die eventually, surely this daily effort and pain isn’t worth it, she said. Even if I keep doing everything right, I’ll probably get cancer or something next year. A falsely consoling tone crept into her voice as she pointed out that I’m being foolish not to just seek comfort where and when I can. A few pills, she whispered, would put this debate to rest. Nobody would need to know…oh, and

she just happens

to have some

right here.

Oh, my friends. Are you enough like me that you suspect whose voice this really is? Who has really been saying these awful things to me? Why I can’t simply cut her out of my life the way one might advise for a toxic relative or friend? Why she can’t be reasoned with; why she has no mercy in her?

She lives inside of my psyche. How she was shaped isn’t important right now; how she can be fought is. I’ve developed weapons that help, but I’m not always strong enough to wield them. The most useful thing I have learned is that her voice can’t be silenced by my will alone. It can, however, be replaced with a better voice if I am able to hear it.

I will leave you with a secret. As she’s been watching me type all of this, I’ve been using her own narcissism against her. She’s been drifting in smug pleasure at the venom of her words, not realizing that by giving them form and reality I have acquired more power over them. That even though they were her words, MY voice used them paradoxically in refusing their command to silence myself. By reading these words, you are participating in a victory, because for this one moment: I win.


5 responses to “Savage Correction

  1. I love this post. Do what I did. Giver her a name. Once you have her name, you have power over her… 🙂

  2. This is brilliant. I think you are a terrific writer. As it happens, I’m friends with this very same bitch.

  3. The thing is: Everyone has their own shit, and to everyone their shit is paramount. Trying to compare shit between two people, metaphorically, is about as useful as trying to do it literally, so saying that someone shouldn’t care about their own shit based on the metrics of someone else’s shit is a shitty thing to say. You shouldn’t take that shit from yourself!

    In the end, if your problems are the problems that are keeping you from doing the things you want to do or being who you want to be, those are the only relevant problems to the conversation of how to make that happen. Ignore the bitch and her bag of irrelevancies: It’s your shit, and only yours, and you will have to carry it with you, just as everyone else has to carry theirs, and it makes no difference who has to carry what because, you know, it’s not like we can fucking trade anyway.

  4. You sucked me right in! I was ready to stand up and bark about cutting this person out of your life, stopped short, then decided that was still good advice. We all have one of those in our heads. The rent to keep them there is too high.

  5. Go! With Gretchen Overland

    So true…you put in amazing perspective how hard we can be on ourselves. The way you presented this, like Sandy Sue said had me wanting to find this person and defend you! How frustrating that if it were a physically “real” person, it would be so much easier to say “you are not good for my healing, and therefore we must part ways.” :-/ You know that to change the world, you have to change yourself first…it is true for every one of us…you are well on your way to wonderful change and you are an inspiration to others!

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