82: The Elephant

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

This morning at 8:00 am CST I am facing my fears, anxieties, and humiliations.

This morning is the first meet-up of a group I started in 2016 in four months, and the first I will be at in six months. My largest anxiety is how I will respond in front of this group of 15 to 25 peers while introducing the speaker.

However, instead of hiding, I’ll own it. I’m going to out the elephant trying to hide in the living room immediately.

I have no idea what to say or how to start but anxiety wants me to hide so I’ve decided to do the opposite. I’m going to treat Anxiety like the bully it is: I’m going to punch it in the nose. An act of courage is the only way to disarm the bully.

Therefore, I’m going to admit to my betrayal of C, the secret-keeping, and the escalating series of lies in a general way to the group. I will not be blackmailed by trolls, anxiety or shame. People obviously don’t need to know the details but I cannot regain my power and self-respect if I continue to hide out of shame.

As such, I’m going to say something because my shame and anxiety – and trolls – are conspiring to shut me up. Fuck them.

I’m thinking about opening with Twain’s quip that, “the report of my death has been grossly exaggerated” or maybe Monty Python’s, “I’m not dead. I’m feeling better.

I only left to give C space. When I made the decision to move back home one of the first things I did was start lining up speakers and presenters, participating in the online forums again, and selecting new dates and times to meet. I started putting the word out through Social Media and to professional and personal connections.

However, almost immediately after I started participating in the group again trolls showed up on the Group’s Facebook page and publically made wild, ill-informed, and outrageous accusations about what they think about what they heard happened between C and myself. They went out of their way to tell truths, half-truths, and ghost stories to people that had no idea about what happened or why I left. Essentially, spreading more of the same deranged nonsense I’ve dealt with from the moment this started and periodically still hear about now.

My preference was to leave the comments up for people to see, but the Group Administrator chose to take them down. She said, there was no room for this type of lynch mob mentality among professionals. People should mind their own business.

However, it is precisely the behavior of trolls fueling my anxiety and shame. My anxiety tells me C’s trolls will show up and make a scene or to try and intimidate me. However, I was reminded this morning, trolls are cowards – that is why they hide on the internet. They can say anything and then go back to Facebook to reshare and post quotes about love and acceptance on the Social Media walls. However, we all have our secrets. Just mine are public and I will own it publically.

Frankly, it was a shameful secret from C but it was never anyone else’s business besides hers. However, at this point, it feels like an elephant and I’m going to put it on a harness and put it to pasture. I’m tired of walking around the shit but to clean it up I’m going to have to step in it.