One thing is inevitable when you work in an industry that’s as public as writing: you will come across haters. With our work being accessible worldwide via the web, it’s really not a question of if, but when.
My when came last year. Now, I’m not talking about people who don’t like my work. That’s gonna happen no matter who you are or what you write. I’ve always known that and have always accepted it. Readers have their own personal tastes and opinions, and they have every right to express them.
The haters I’m talking about are those who are nothing more than cyber bullies, whose agendas are to harass, intimidate, and hurt others. Coming across these extremely hateful and bitter people luckily didn’t come as a surprise to me, because unluckily, I’d already witnessed their run-ins with other writer friends. When I supported one of those friends publicly online, that’s when they turned their attention to me.
They accomplished their goals for a while. It bothered me that people who had never met me could seemingly hate me for no good reason. I tried to wrap my mind around it, tried to rationalize why people would behave in such ugly ways. Impossible. Every which way I looked at it led to one conclusion—they simply enjoy hating people.
Back in the days before I got help for my depression, these things probably would have had me bedridden. I may have even quit writing if it had happened back then. Now that I’m able to see things with a clearer head, I can better ignore and avoid the haters. But I’ve also come to a really interesting conclusion.
Depression and hatred of others are like two sides of a coin.
Follow me here. Depression, left unchecked, can sink its claws into you and pull you into a pit of such despair that you can’t climb your way out. You can’t see the light up top. You become completely lost in self-doubt and yes, self-hatred. See where I’m going?
Hatred of others takes those same ugly feelings (whatever the source) and turns them outward instead of inward. It’s just as illogical as depression’s self-hatred but no less hurtful. It can fully consume the hater just like depression until that person is so fully invested in the negativity, they cannot stop without intervention. Of course, we can see this very clearly in wars, gang violence, domestic violence, and all the horrid physical hurts people inflict on each other. And we can see it in bullying.
Why though, did I title this “A Thank You to the Haters”? Because, now that I’m healthier and out of Depression’s claws and out of its deep, dark pit, I can clearly see the wide horizon of life in front of me. When the haters hate, I’m not trapped. I can turn away and choose to be happy. I can focus on the tremendous blessings in my life instead of the negativity. When I do that, all the useless hate seems so small in comparison to my God, my home, my husband, my three beautiful babies, and all the terrific and supportive friends I’ve met since I started this writing journey.
Without the haters, I wouldn’t have had to make that choice, and that choice is actually very empowering. I don’t have to climb back into my pit. I don’t have to lash out and be just as hurtful as they are. I can love, and I can help. I can be the good person that I know I am and that God intended me to be. So, I thank you, haters, for the test. I may not always pass it with flying colors (I am only human after all), but I can pass it. And that feels good. Really good.