Just Keep Walking
Take a long hard look at yourself. Go on. Force yourself to take a look. Shocking words, aren’t they?
These comments, jumbled together like the knitting basket of a madwoman, are not the contents of my head. They’re not the hateful self-talk of a depressive though God knows, they could lead anyone to it.
They are a brief summary of just some the hate comments levelled at me over the last two years.
They are the words that have been said to me, screamed at me, posted to me, emailed to me, written about me in other forums, on this blog, in the twittersphere. Occasionally you have left your names, usually you have not. You never leave an address or your photo. You are safely tucked away, anonymous and ensconced in your virtuous, virtual world of pejorative, entitled, privileged viewpoints.
No doubt you all feel better for having got it off your chest. Like little stabs, they have left small scars all over my body, borne by a hostile and self-righteous need to tell me off. No doubt you sleep more easily at night knowing you’ve given me a piece of your mind.
It’s tough enough having to do the everyday stuff of just LIVING, of being able to survive each day, of feeding and clothing yourself, of having a place to live, without other people littering my pathway with their opinions in a misguided and at times insane attempt to be helpful. The best way I have found to get through is to put my head down and keep. on. walking. Don’t stand still, don’t be a passive target. Never put my head up so they can take aim at you, never spout off, don’t be too loud, don’t oppose and never EVER engage them in argument.
That way lies madness.
Here’s the thing about poverty. It deprives you of the ability to believe that you deserve better. It takes away the life affirming vision of aspiration and ambition. It’s not about some melodramatic moment in a turnip field, doing my version of Scarlett O’Hara vowing to the world that I will never go hungry again – it’s about telling myself that it’s just a day, just get through this day, this hour, this minute. This. Wait until you are out of their sight before you scream, before you break down and cry. Before you break down completely.
Here’s the thing about unemployment. It debases your self-worth, makes you question what you will stand for and what you will not. Will I work for $11 an hour cash in hand just so I can say I’m working again? What about $9 an hour? What about 25c an article for copywriting? (These offers have all been offered to met in the last week)
Forget about whether it will pay the rent – Will it be enough to raise my stocks with the world at large who demands I do something - anything – just as long as I am not sucking the public teat dry? Will $11 an hour, presumably for 60 or 70 hours a week to cover costs, be enough to regain some credibility in a material world? Will it restore my dignity in your eyes? Will it be enough to enable me to look the world in the eye without embarrassment, without the constant gnawing fear that no matter what I do, IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH?
Here’s the thing about hating on me. Comparing yourself to me is not only easy, it’s derivative. OF COURSE it makes you feel better, feel more smug, more comfortable. You wont admit it of course. Instead you tell me how disgusted you are with me. For what purpose exactly? Does it square up some karmic ledger? Does it make the earth tilt back onto its axis when you hurl your opinions at me? And for what? Being different from you? Not aligning with your world view? Not being pretty enough, clever enough, not thinking it through, for being imperfect and disingenuous?
Does it make you feel better when you tell me that you’re disappointed with me when I used an f-word when defending myself against a stream of passive-aggressive comments? Does it make you feel better knowing that you are SO much better than me? That I’m a disappointment? Fucking hopeless? Pathetic? (Your descriptions of me by the way).
I want to vomit.
Here’s the thing about being in firing line of online vitriol. It strips you of any pretence to greatness or ability. You have nothing with which you can hide your inadequacies, your failings, your pared back pock-marked ego. Nor is there any place in poverty-land for conceit, for flights of fancy, for ego, vanities or illusions. You can’t afford to even think about an alternative. You are poor and maligned goddamnit and you are not wealthy enough to have the luxury of a vision of something better for you. How dare you even dream of a better life. Just get a fucking job – any job, no matter the cost – and stop laying about. You’re poor and it’s a dogeatdog world. There’s no place for generosity, for kindness, for sharing. What ever you do, don’t you dare be choosy.
Here’s the thing about unrelenting poverty. It’s an isolating existence. It rips and tears at your little community. It breaks up families. It evicts you out of homes, townships and friendships. It forces you onto the road of peripatetic life, searching, always searching for something – anything? – that will somehow keep you whole. Will keep you all together. Will somehow bring you back from the brink. Don’t think about the alternative. Don’t think about the awful reality of your children now separated from you, of family long gone, of broken promises and disabled friendships brought about by bone-grinding poverty. Don’t think too much about where you will sleep tonight. Whatever you do, don’t think about next month or next year. Don’t think about it.
Just. Keep Walking.
And so I have walked. Every day for over two years. Carrying my load and, whenever people up-ended their wastebins of hatred, filthy beggars that they are, I cleaned up their shit as well.
And now, I’m done.
The unending support and love from a vast majority of readers and supporters to whom I owe so much is a debt I will NEVER be able tro repay. That said, despite the very real support of people who continue to walk into the shops and buy my book I’m simply unable to continue at present. Know that you are acknowledged and loved in return and when I return I will come back because YOU are here.
But I really do have to get this off my chest once and for all.
It hurts to walk each day. It hurts to think. It hurts to cook and to write. It is unbearably hard to carry the unfair load of prejudice and expectations the haters have placed on my back because they somehow think that even now I must try harder. I’m worn down by the relentless effort required to bring myself back from poverty and unemployment. I’m worn out.
It hurts to be passive and silent when really hateful and sad people say awful, untrue and downright defamatory things. It hurts when you call into question my motives, my success, my ability, my sanity, my ability as a mother, whether indeed my children should be allowed to be with me. It hurts to go through this so alone. It hurts when I am dragged down to your level, imagining you in a bloody pulpy mess on the floor because truthfully, that’s what I wish for you sometimes when I read the things you say. When you come at me with more venom I want you left hurt on the floor. I give thanks every day that it passes. Thank God, it always passes.
I ask whether you could bear it. Whether you could manage. Whether you would hang on grimly as if to a piece of driftwood in a raging ocean, to the scrap of dignity you have left. To that sense of self worth that still forces you to get out of bed every day. I wonder if you could transmute your rage and grief into yet another job application letter, another recipe, yet another act of love and creativity and care and generosity that speaks not of the food it’s made of but of spirit, of humanity, of inclusion, of community, of the care factor for others that you seem so incapable of? I wonder if you could do this on your own, without drugs or booze or sex or shoes or a comfortable home or even the unhappy relationship with your long-suffering partner you cling to, those things you immunize yourself with against the cruelties of an uncaring world?
I wonder if you would do it with humility, without ambition or ego? I wonder if you would endure the unimaginable, the unendurable? I wonder if you could keep on walking? Sure you tell yourself, it won’t happen to you. You’re insured, have a nest-egg for a rainy day, have your health, have your marriage. It won’t happen to you.
Don’t bet on it. The only difference between me and you is about twelve months. Sometimes, not even that.
So – Right now, I can’t keep walking.
I’m taking a break.
I’m not going far, or for very long. I’m still going to post occasionally. For one thing, there are four fantastic giveaways and competitions coming up in the next six weeks in the lead up to my 50th Birthday.
I’m cooking again, for the first time in months but for now I’m not going to share it with you. I’m not. I’m cooking because I want to, not because I have to. I’m cooking again to fire something inside myself. Something like self-love. Something like nurturing, perhaps a long-overdue mothering of my spirit. A homecoming of sorts.
The blog is being redesigned at the moment – it should be looking pretty awesome by mid July – and importantly, it will give you a much easier way of navigating through the enormous archive and catalogue of over 900 recipes. 900 recipes. That’s some journey. Surely as an act of redemption, it’s enough, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?
But most of all, I want to re-think this journey. I want to concentrate on the long road back to financial and emotional control. I want to look the world in the eye, to be an equal. I haven’t felt anything other than a second class citizen for the longest time. (There. You have it. If some commentators are to be believed, it’s my just desserts. Hope you all feel better now, you sanctimonious shits)
I’m 50 in the middle of July. I’m too beaten down to be vain about it. Once, when times were better and I was optimistic, I planned to go to Paris to celebrate. Then I optimistically thought that unemployment would be a matter of days. Then months. Now, I’m just grateful to have a roof over my head (just one room in a many-roomed house, wouldn’t want to get too ahead of myself) and the hug of my children on the day. There will be no surprise party thrown for me and if I want a cake I’ll have to make it myself. It will simply be a pause in my life, just a moment to take stock, perhaps bring back into focus those moments I can still be grateful for.
And maybe then, the next day, if I’m strong enough, I’ll continue walking.
See you on the flip side.
From now on, any defamatory comments about me or about my family, or any vilification or hate mail sent to me will be referred to police and/or legal advisors for further action. The statute of limitation is years, so don’t think I can’t come after you.
Shortly, you will be required to log-in in order to comment. DON’T think your anonymous comments or fake email addresses protects you from legal action. This is MY WEBSITE and you are MY bitches, got it? Good.