I didn’t think anybody could possibly be more critical of me than I am of myself, but I discovered tonight that I was mistaken.
I learned as a child to be harshly critical of myself and to blame myself for everything, whether I was responsible for it or not. These days, I’m still strongly inclined to concentrate on my faults and weaknesses. If you’ve paid attention to what I’ve written here, you already know this, though.
I received a nasty anonymous email tonight. No matter how much my own internal dialogue attacks me, I now know that someone out there has a much deeper and more vicious dislike for me than my childhood programming implanted.
It hurts to be attacked on such a personal level. Seriously. On that score, this cowardly attacker scored a bullseye. For a few minutes, I was really, really hurt. Maybe that will make someone happy.
But such an attack ultimately reveals more about this cowardly anonymous attacker, so that takes some of the sting out of it.
The thing that made this attack noteworthy is that it felt so personal to the attacker. It wasn’t about ideas. It wasn’t about business. It wasn’t about some real-world dispute. It was about this person’s vicious judgment that I “have nothing to offer…” This person was judging me — was prosecutor, judge and jury. And people rarely do that unless it’s personal.
The very personal nature of it made it sting at first and then made me wonder why any sane person would have developed this need to tell me what a lousy person I am. If this attacker thinks so little of me, why does he or she pay such close attention to me? Why would this person care enough to set up a fake email account just to attack me in this way?
I have always been my own worst critic. I know myself better than you do and I worry about a lot more things than any outsider could possibly imagine. If someone wanted to get to know me in a genuine way — instead of as an attacker trying to hurt me — I would gladly reveal far more insecurities and flaws than you knew to hit on in your little attack. Honest.
But here’s the thing. I know which way I’m going right now. You don’t. I know what I want to be and which things about myself that I still want to change. You don’t have a clue. You’re just a cowardly loser sitting on the sideline taking potshots at someone you don’t really understand as much as you think you do.
If I were to listen to your sort of attack, I would pull back into a shell and not attempt to do the things I’m working on right now, but you won’t get that satisfaction. I’m not going to let your lack of understanding of me — and the cowardly way you expressed it — stop me from working on the things I’m trying to change.
It’s strange how little we really understand other people — and how little they understand us — but how easy it is to assume we understand others, as we apply our own standards and assumptions to them.
(One thing about this which is humorous is that this person isn’t aware that it’s possible to trace the geolocation of IP addresses from which anonymous emails come. Your location revealed far more about yourself than you realize.)
People are strange, especially when they think they understand more about you than they do. An anonymous attack says far more about the attacker than it does the person being attacked. It’s still painful to be attacked, even if you know far more about your own faults than the attacker who’s trying to hurt you.
It just makes you wonder why a person invests so much emotional energy in following someone who they can’t stand — someone who they are so certain has no value.
As long as I choose to write for the public, I can’t change what anonymous followers think. Being misunderstood just comes with the territory. But if I’m lucky, the coward behind tonight’s attack will quit following me and go find someone else to hate instead.
I have enough self-criticism that lives inside my own head. I really don’t need your help with that.