I think it is interesting that I wrote this entire post about my need to express myself, and when I tried to publish it, Blogger crashed and lost the whole thing. You can't stop me, though, as I will discuss in this post.
Some people hate this blog, which is sort of like hating puppies and kittens, but they still hate it and will tell me so. Mostly, they'll do so anonymously. They will conduct the literary equivalent of flipping me off in my comments. I think they are probably itching for a good old fashioned drive-by shooting and just can't find the time or the firearms. So they just shoot at me in my comments and keep driving.
How do I deal with it? Do I fall apart? Hardly. Usually, I just e-mail Famous Author Rob Byrnes, and we make fun of the commenter. Or my loyal friends will jump in and defend me (usually making me laugh at their cleverness in the process). Negative comments really don't bother me, because I know most of these comments are a cry for attention from people trying to stir the pot. I mean, if you really hated reading a blog, why wouldn't you just move on? Why waste time telling the blogger that you hate them and think their blog sucks?
I have to admit, though, the other day I received an e-mail from someone I once knew. He basically called me out for exposing too much. He was especially upset that I wrote about a boy that I liked, who made out with someone else at the bar one night when we were out at CC Slaughters. I had, at the very least, a sexual relationship with this guy. It turns out I was wrong that we could possibly mean more to each other, but that was something I didn't write about. So I wrote about how I still wanted to be friends with this guy, but that we would be nothing more than that. Without knowing anything that occurred between this guy and me, other than what he read in this blog, the person who e-mailed me jumped to this guy's defense. He said that, unless I stopped writing about boys I like, anybody in Portland will think twice before dating me.
I tried to open up a dialogue about it with my critic. I tried to remind him of all the nice things I had written about him. I tried to get him to see how shallow it would be for me to only write about sunshine and light, when we all know that's not the whole truth. But he didn't respond. I wrote him twice, but heard nothing back. Another drive-by shooting, but this time it came from someone who once meant a lot to me.
Well, I thought about his words for about a week. I came to the conclusion that, if a man can't handle dating someone who is open and honest, he's not the man for me. If I am only allowed to write about the wonderful side of dating him and can't be real, I will just have to pass. Even if I don't blog about my life experiences, including, but not limited to, romantic relationships, I must have an outlet for expression. I'll write a play about it, or I'll sing a song to express my feelings. If you are horribly unlucky, I will write you a love poem. Heaven help you if that happens.
The point is, I can't stop telling my truth now. It's like me and my ex, CT, used to say. "The steamroller of truth can't be stopped." It is like an avalanche of truth that starts with a small snowball rolling down a hill, picking up speed, and becoming devastatingly enormous. Well, at least that is how a cartoon avalanche looks. I've never been in a real one. Or, if I have, I can't remember.
Anyway (focus, Toddy, focus!!) I came exploding out of the closet of repression and lies eight years ago. Tired of lying and pretending to be someone I'm not, I decided to get on board the Silence=Death train, and I'm not ever getting off. And e-mails like this one I received from a reader I'll call Kent Almighty, encourage me to keep telling the truth,
"You know, I did notice in the more recent HTTO archives, that there were bits of censoring going on, and even caught some hints of advice from your friends to keep it down. There are a lot of people who just don't want to hear about personal feelings and of what speaks to the heart, other than something that's been homogenized for safe human consumption. It's difficult and scary to expose and talk of one's personal feelings…but I know that that is what makes the absolute difference in life…
I'm convinced that that's the secret to a fulfilled and happy life -- to share about oneself and innermost being and then to have someone else really listen and receive it, to hug it and cherish it and allow it inside…I for one, have benefited greatly from your words…and I would be saddened if you changed the way you are just for other people's comfort level."
Thanks, Kent Almighty. I won't change. I promise.
I have a good friend in Portland who makes fun of Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. He mocks me and says he never reads the blog. I love this guy, and I know he has better things to do with his time than read my blog. Right now he is going through a very rough time. He called me yesterday and left a message. "Toddy, call me. I need to tell you something." Worried that he might need me to rush over with a bottle of Maker's Mark and a lot of stupid jokes, I called him back. I was surprised and encouraged as he told me his truth, "Toddy, I have started reading your blog. It means so much to me. Frankly, it is one of the only things that keeps me going lately."
That's all the encouragement I need to keep going. I don't care if I get a hundred negative comments a day and scathing e-mails from people all over the world. My friend was moved by what I wrote, and it makes him want to keep going. Which makes me want to keep going. And that, my friends, is just one of the countless benefits of being honest. I'm not changing a thing.