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Kitchen Sink

The Lesson Isn’t Always What You Expect

June 6th, 2010

A few weeks ago, I received an email regarding my blog — and me — and this post — that made me simultaneously:




and cry.


It wasn’t “hate mail,” no, it was more like “concerned mail.” Concerned for my soul kinda, and for my life outlook, and in a nutshell? The email writer said…

“I really enjoy your sense of humor, but your continuous complaining and bitching and moaning is just unbearable to read, day in and day out.

So. There was that.

Of course there was more. The whole email was crafted beautifully and out of concern for my soul as I mentioned, and not mean in the least. In fact, it was written from a place of light that informed me,

“Your voice comes from how you feel on the inside. And your insides, apparently, don’t feel very well. That’s okay. As a matter of fact it’s perfect. You’re expressing all of that internal rage and that’s better than not expressing it.”

Other paragraphs followed. A few more that made me put my hands over my eyes and read the rest of the correspondence through shuttered fingers. Because? I knew what the writer said was true.




I know, oh yes I do, that I am a snark. I am not happy with all things. I can be a bitch. BUT. But, but, but. See. There is so so so much more.


I get frustrated, so I write. I get angry, so I write. I get BESIDE MYSELF, so I write. And also and in addition, I get happy, and so I write. I am touched, and so I write. I love, and so I write. I write, I write, I write. Somedays there is rage. Other days, not. If you write often and if you let it all hang out in a public forum, those emotions will be given a voice. And people will read — and react.


Still and yet, I let what the emailer wrote consume me. I must be bad, terrible, horrible, in need of intervention. Surely I’m full of rage and venom and vitriol. There is no saving me. Good God woman! Don’t even try. (Because she tried.)


And I thought and I thought. I love lessons, as much as I hate them. I know there is a grain of truth, maybe a pound, in who people tell you you are, so listen. I winced at the email because it resonated, because I knew, I knew some of what she said was true as true as the day is long.


And some was untrue. The writer of the email had never spoken with me, gotten to know me, absorbed me in any way shape or form to know that I am not full of rage and a constant bitcher/moaner/complainer. And if I were? IF I WERE? I’m not saying it’s right, God knows, but I am ON MY OWN PATH, and I will COME TO KNOW THINGS when the mile markers present themselves, and I know in my deepest nucleus that I WANT TO BE BETTER and sometimes? I AM NOT and the people I surround myself with? Are the people who are traveling on paths too. And if you’ve already arrived at the end destination? That’s wonderful. Wave to me from the bleachers. But respect that everyone finishes at their own pace. I had a friend who summed it up once: “If you are already enlightened, light up others, don’t rub your light in another’s face so they can’t see.”


I’m not saying the emailer did that. How could I? I don’t know her. And if she’s on her path, she may be at the point where she is reaching out to help others best she knows how. THAT is lovely and fine. Still something pulled at me, so I forwarded the email to a few trusted friends. Honestly? I wanted to hear that I wasn’t so bad and that those who knew my soul — the deepest, darkest reaches — could confirm it wasn’t full of rage soot.


And on and on. But one friend in particular, a beautiful, angel friend with wise words always to say, told me: “Maybe the lesson of this email is for you to be sure in who you are.


Words that struck a chord in me more resonant that the original email.


But I’ll have to tell you why later.


Right now? I’m still processing.


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On June 6th, 2010, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

Beautiful post, Deb.


Like you.

Perfect because you’re perfectly you.

On June 6th, 2010, The Frugal Hostess said:

Oh for fuck’s sake. Writers are writers because writing letters (i.e., perfectly accurate representations of what goes down day to day) is bore-mother-fucking-ing. I love you and every last word you say. Don’t let some Churchy McBuddha turkey make you question your (awesome, hilarious, and – MOST IMPORTANT – true to life) voice. For rizzle. XOXO, TFH

On June 6th, 2010, Mo "Mad Dog" Stoneskin said:

Hmm. If I remember correctly I was once accused of being something rather nasty once by a reader, but fortunately I’ve forgotten what that stupid twaImeanreader said…

If it means anything, I’ve never seen you as anything more than a writer from the heart.

On June 7th, 2010, Maureen@IslandRoar said:

That’s funny; I’ve never seen you that way.
I never trust those who want life to be one big love fest. It just isn’t normal.

On June 7th, 2010, Chris said:

Hug, kiss, kiss, hug, hug, kiss. You are so lovely, compassionate and non-judgmental. I know you’re not fishing for compliments, but mine are sincere. I love this post and I relate to who you are [or who I know you to be online]. You’re an amazing writer, with a voice [something very few writers have, in my humble opinion] and you’re brave enough to share the grit with us. I have journals full of snark, angst and moaning. You’re just neat. I like how you acknowledge your emailer is on her own path. So big of you. Process away, but not too much… life’s waiting for you! xxxooo

On June 7th, 2010, Da Goddess said:

I think The Frugal Hostess said it best.

Honestly, people who read your blog and think they know you and have a right to preach to you about how you should improve your life are, well, lost enough on their own. Like you really need them to lead you on some more virtuous path? Puhleeze.

And I say that with all the love and kindness and concern in my heart.

On June 7th, 2010, Trish said:

#1 I completely disagree with the first quote that you posted from the email. Obviously, to me anyway, this is just a small fraction of your life and feelings. You can’t go around continually bitching and moaning irl (trust me, I’ve tried) so you have to get it out somewhere.

#2 I particularly liked the post the emailer responded too. We too have been dealing with the same ins co for months and went to collections and the whole 9. Misery loves company. (it’s all straightened out now).

#3 Maybe it’s just your writing style and she should lighten up.

#4 It’s good to process, but don’t take her too seriously. Be kind to yourself.

On June 7th, 2010, Danielle said:

I really enjoy your blog. I would never judge you based on what you write. Maybe that’s because what you wrote was like you were in my head and I related so much. You helped me get back up and on my path a few times because I had sat down in exhaustion thinking I was alone in how I was feeling and not moving was easier. I have to say Thanks for that.

On June 7th, 2010, Disclaimer: For Entertainment Purposes Only | 3 Kids and a Breakdown said:

[…] on shared a bit of an email she received recently. The person who sent the email expressed concern for the amount of […]

On June 7th, 2010, Cascia @ Healthy Moms said:

That was really rude! You should write about whatever you want after all, this is YOUR blog. If that person doesn’t like what you write then he/she shouldn’t bother reading it.

I love your blog and all the emotion and creativity you put into it. I wouldn’t worry about it so much if I were you. It is just one person’s opinion.

On June 7th, 2010, JenniferfromLaJolla said:

I agree with your wise friend. It is okay to try on what people say (about you, and anything else for that matter) and reject it. That’s a great lesson and one I appreciate you sharing.

As far as the specifics of the emailer’s comments, I disagree. Your willingness to ponder and share what this person wrote shows that you have an open and curious mind. I don’t know too many people who are open and curious AND bitchy and miserable. Those traits don’t like to hang out with each other.

On June 7th, 2010, Mama Mary said:

You are light. You are eloquent. You are you and I love you! Amazingly written post on a difficult topic, S.Sister. xo

On June 7th, 2010, Melanie said:

We are all much more than the words we put on our pages. We can’t help, or be responsible for, the filters someone else is using when they visit.

For example, one person reads something and comes away with negativity, someone else reads the same thing and has an ‘a-ha’ moment. That’s life. What we’ve personally experienced determines if our glasses are in fact rose colored or not.

But, whatever reaction a person has is on them, not you. This is your space. Use it as you see fit. As you pointed out, the emailer doesn’t know you. IMHO, anything that comes from a person who has made no effort to get know the author behind the blog, deserves way more than one grain of salt.

Keep doing you.

On June 7th, 2010, Christina said:

I completely COMPLETELY disagree with that email.
I let things like that eat at me, too and I’m in the process of learning to let go of certain things that cross my path. Trying to not let things “waste” my energy (cause gawd knows I have no energy to spare).
Me thinks that person is jealous that you are true, honest, and that you have a voice (and your dawmn good at expressing it via writing).

On June 7th, 2010, MomZombie said:

There is nothing wrong with considering constructive criticism. I’ve always been told if you bristle too much at a critique, there is some truth to it. Quite often what irritates me the most in others is what I perceive as my own worst weaknesses. All that said, I think your blog and your writing is refreshing, beautiful, sharp and real. I’d rather read someone who has mood swings than someone flatlining on anti-depressants.

On June 7th, 2010, Jenn @ Juggling Life said:

Nobody can really know what someone’s life is actually like from their blog. We all have a little bit of schtick we do–yours may be snark, but that is creative expression, not a sign that you’re deeply unhappy.

That email seems quite presumptuous.

On June 7th, 2010, Cheryl said:

You don’t continuously moan and complain. And? It seems the emailer was doing exactly what she was accusing you of doing. Chalk it up to that psych term “projection” and ignore it.

On June 7th, 2010, San Diego Momma said:

So I posted this to vent and process and I ended up with the most supportive comments. Thanks so much everyone. I feel like I am lifted on all sides.

Not that I’m not a Snarky McPissyPants, but at least I feel like you all get me.

Love my people.


On June 7th, 2010, green girl in Wisconsin said:

Really? I’ve never thought you to be that way. I think you’re pretty real. Authentic. And damn funny.

On June 7th, 2010, Sugar Jones said:

Feel what you feel, Deb. They are your feelings to feel… your words to express.

On June 7th, 2010, Stefanie said:

My grandmother always said that if a girl was raised right, she would never offer an opinion unless it is asked.

You, my friend, (and I am proud to think you call me the same) are one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. Inside and out.

On June 7th, 2010, La Jolla Mom said:

I personally love your snark. And I never ever feel like you’re constantly bitching and moaning. I’m really sorry that this email made you cry. Wine helps.

On June 7th, 2010, Birdrockfab said:

I almost felt like she was referring to another blog not yours. I honestly have never come away any such an impression. I connect with your posts, they mean I’m not alone in how I am feeling. Your humor, (snark) and wit is an added bonus!

On June 7th, 2010, Kelly said:

Hmmm. I think you touched some kind of nerve in her, that unsettled her to the point of needing to write what seems like a very long e-mail.

I have to wonder at the hubris and preachiness of anyone who can be that presumptuous..with someone she doesn’t even know!

On June 7th, 2010, kate said:

What the hell is wrong with people?

You? Are lovely. And barely snarky at all.

On June 7th, 2010, Tweets that mention San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » The Lesson Isn’t Always What You Expect -- said:

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PaperFlora, Stefanie Mullen. Stefanie Mullen said: An beautiful response. via @sandiegomomma […]

On June 9th, 2010, Twenty Four At Heart said:

Wow! Getting caught up on my blog reading and … wow!
I get A LOT of emails from readers chiming in on my life. I often am shocked at their takeaway on me … my life. Sometimes it’s wonderful and sometimes it’s not – but what I’ve come to realize is their reactions to me and what I write is usually based on what is going on in THEIR life, not mine. This isn’t to say I don’t also get wonderful, valuable, feedback … but sometimes the feedback (both positive and negative) isn’t really about me at all. Personally, I find you (and your writing) absolutely delightful!

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