Three-Year Blogaversary: Resilience, Gifts, and Not-Quitting

I just received this notice from WordPress:

3yrblogaversary

This makes me smile, for just this morning, while strolling through the garden, I began composing my three-year blogaversary post. I thought the blogaversary was a few days away and that I was early–but here it is, today!

letter0104

While I was thinking of what I wanted to comment on about this past year, my heart kept turning towards some of the challenging points of my three-year involvement with SimLit blogging. Some of my friends and several acquaintances have been targets of cyber bullying through their blogging and involvement with the SimLit community. I’ve experienced some meanness, too.  When this happens, we often think, “Why stay with this? Why not quit?” And, indeed, sometimes, withdrawing for a while, to heal, rebuild confidence, and regain strength is the best strategy.

Over the past three years, each time I’ve considered whether I wanted to stay or withdraw, I’ve chosen to stay. This creative outlet gives me something that adds to my life, and I love the SimLit community.

During my first six months of blogging and being part of the SimLit community, I felt I’d found a niche. The community was small, friendly, open, welcoming, accepting, diverse, and a little bit quirky. It seemed possible to read and keep up with all the new TS4 stories, and almost possible to get to know all the writers. We had fun, goofy, and inspiring collabs; we celebrated each other’s legacy births and weddings, and mourned the passings of each other’s founders, heirs, spouses, and spares. I was full of joy for nearly all of those six months: I’d found my place online.

During the second six months, I experienced a painful situation common to many bloggers and collaborators. I had a public falling-out with a close friend and collaborator that ended in a personal attack made in the comments on my blog. It was the result of a misunderstanding, and looking back, I wish I’d been able to handle the situation with more grace and skill. I don’t regret the post I made that brought on the attack, for I was clarifying misinformation about me, my beliefs and attitudes, and my approaches to game-play that had been publicly posted. It’s within our rights to clarify misinformation that’s posted about us. I regret my lack of skill in handling the situation: Causing pain to someone I love and admire is deeply regrettable, as is the loss of a friendship–or several.

letter0101

My own pain surrounding this event was sharp and raw around the time of the first Blogaversary celebration, during which we acknowledged many of the one-year-old SimLit blogs. I had come close to cancelling the event, and I seriously considered quitting altogether. I’m glad we held the celebration: I look back fondly on our enthusiasm as readers and writers. I’m glad I stuck with blogging. It was during my second year of blogging that I finished Goofy Love and started many other stories which have been gratifying to me.

During my second year of blogging, I learned cyber bullying happens in the Simming community. BullyOnline.org offers this definition of cyber bullying:

Cyber bullying is the misuse of communication technology (email, SMS texts, social networks, Internet forums etc) for conducting campaigns of hatred. The impersonality and distance between bully and target makes such technology an effective means to cause conflict and hurt.

Types of Bullying, from BullyOnline.org

One of my good friends has been the target of bullying through a Sims site that promotes these types of  “campaigns of hatred.” I was shocked to discover this site existed and dismayed to see the extent of harm that it causes. Each week, people are torn down by the hateful comments posted there.

What happened to that “friendly, open, welcoming, accepting, diverse” community I fell in love with during my first six months of blogging? Could that still exist alongside a community that systematically tears down other people?

letter0103

And should I stay involved with a community that had these corners in it? Once again, I considered quitting.

Of course, even though I was just discovering this subterranean corner, it didn’t mean that it was new. It had been going on for nearly a decade and had been just as violent during the six months I thought the community was bliss.

During my third year of blogging, I learned that derogatory comments had been made toward me in the cyber bullying corner. It explained a lot: the shifts in attitude, the cold-shoulders, the unaccounted for spikes in readership on a few blog posts, as well as the dropping-off of readers. Sensitive people can pick up when feelings towards them change, even when there is no evidence at hand for what’s causing this. As I discovered these posts and comments about me, I noticed that they correlated with the times when I noticed these changes in attitude.

Online gossip and hate cause ripples, even when the targets aren’t aware that the comments have been made.

I didn’t feel safe. When I talk with others who’ve experienced these situations, that’s what they say, too: “I don’t feel safe.”

It makes us question why we stay involved. Even though I was able to think through the comments made about me and regain some confidence and resilience, I still questioned being involved with a community where this type of behavior happened.

I stay because I’m a Kindness Warrior. I fully believe that kindness is stronger than hate. I know that stories about love, mindfulness, strength, resilience, compassion, and bravery make a difference.

letter0105

I’m committed to keeping active in the official EA Sims Forums, to welcome newcomers, to encourage discouraged writers, to create and participate in joyful collaborations, and to create corners in the community that are safer, more accepting, more supportive, more welcoming, and that are brave enough to confront our behaviors, attitudes, and practices that aren’t safe, accepting, supportive, or welcoming.

letter0107

We don’t have to give in to hate or fear. We do need to take care of ourselves, maintain our boundaries,  and to surround ourselves with supportive, encouraging, loving people.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing about this during my three-year blogaversary: It’s not exactly a celebratory post. It is a resolution. It’s a resolution not to be blind about the hurtful things that happen. It’s a resolution to speak against bullying. It’s a resolution not to believe lies against others. It’s a resolution to have your back.

If you’ve been a target of cyberbullying in the SimLit community, I’m here to offer you support. I’ll believe you, not the lies told against you.  You’re not alone. Take the time you need to heal, regain your confidence and your strength, and when you’re ready to come back, I’m here to welcome you.

I hope other Kindness Warriors will join me. It’s our community: Let’s keep it a safe haven for diverse, lovely, quirky, creative people.

We are so much stronger than hate.

letter0106

If you have experienced cyber bullying, please tell someone you trust. You need support. You might also find these tips helpful:

Septemus 11

sept353

Dear Sept,

Have you heard of intentional families?

These aren’t the families you were born into. They’re the families of your choosing.

sept354

Like me choosing you, Number 77.

And you choosing me back to be your bizaabgotojo.

My nonny used to tell me, “Pipsqueak, you may have been brought here by a dozen twists of fate, but even if fate hadn’t conspired so, your poppy and I would have had to choose you.”

I feel that way about you, Septemus Sevens.

sept355

You seem to be creating your own intentional family these days.

I heard you ask our young friend Lucas, “LucasyoumybizoopagotoOK?”

He looked at you like he couldn’t understand a word.

“He’s asking you to be his big brother, Lucas,” I explained.

“Oh! I’ve always wanted to be a big brother!” said Lucas. “Sure!”

“Oh, squeegee!” you replied.

sept340

You chose Miko for your bizaabgotojo since the moment you first met her. Nearly two years later, and she’s still telling you the plotlines of completely inappropriate otome, and you’re still eating it up.

sept368

Little bug, I’m telling you this as one orphan to another: Intentional families are where it’s at.

We are the folks who will be with you always and forever, no matter when you need us.

We’re here.

We’re here, and we chose you. You chose us back.

And it still doesn’t quite make that empty feeling inside go away, does it?

sept365

sept364

sept367

sept366

sept363

My little bug. I see you looking, searching, and longing. I know. I’ve got a corresponding empty spot inside of me. When your own bizaabgotojoto by birth are gone, that spot just sits there, and no amount of games, Kisuuu, faux BLT, waiting-dancing, flashcards, singing, and totally inappropriate otome can fill it up.

Don’t despair. We are resilient beings. Love is resilient, too.

Your bizaabgotojo,

Sebastion

<< Previous | Next >>

Forgotten Art: Meadow – Kaitlin 8

A reply to: A letter from Kaitlin

meadowpix08

Dear Kaitlin,

It felt so good to talk to you. I’m glad you called. It didn’t feel weird at all, as I thought it might, because you sound just like you, and I feel like I’ve known you forever.

How did it go with the therapist?

I hope you have someone who reinforces a sense of agency and helps you create your boundaries and rediscover your strength! Remember: there are so many therapists out there, so if for any reason, this one doesn’t seem to be effective at this time, you have the right to find someone else. You’re the client.

meadowpix09

I might have not been clear when I told you about going back to school: I’m not going back to study art (I’m an artist already); I’m going back to study art therapy!

I’m training to become a trauma specialist, using my background in art and folklore to help with healing. Well, that was the original intention. What’s happened is that learning about healing from trauma has become an over-riding passion for me! Now I want to be more than an art therapist: I want to be involved in all the aspects of trauma healing.

Everywhere I go, everyone I meet, every news story I hear, every novel I read, every work of folklore I tell, every painting, every play, every piece of music, every dance, every yoga pose, every tremble, and every shake–it all seems to rotate around the story of trauma and how our amazing, resilient and wise bodies help us to heal from it.

meadowpix04

I must admit that when I first made the commitment to study trauma therapy, I felt a bit of trepidation: I was worried about the stories I might hear about the terrible things that have happened to people. I didn’t know if I would have the internal strength to bear witness.

But what has happened instead is that I have come to learn about the incredible wisdom of our neurology and physiology in helping us to survive both as individuals and as a species. And this is something that we share with all mammals!

I’ve come, too, to learn that there are deep paths to healing, within the very coding of our bodies and our cultures.

Rather than feeling defeated by what I’ve learned, I feel hope.

meadowpix02

Ah! I’m trying (always) to restrain myself from talking on and on about this too much! Mizuki, who has endless patience and indefatigable interest in all things theoretical, tells me with a laugh on a nearly daily basis that my efforts with restraint are ill-fated. I will never succeed! But watch…

I’m moving on to new topics!

In your last letter (which, I know!, was months ago! I’m sorry! I had no idea being a full-time student and a mom and doing an internship would keep me so busy!), you asked about Mizuki and Youssef and if marriage were on the horizon! Let’s just say, they are interesting–and mutually interested–friends.

Our lives are so much the better for having them in it.

meadowpix01

True, getting needed time alone is a challenge, but there’s always a long solitary walk through the hills! And the rewards I see in Jena’s flourishing make up for having traded in my solitude for company.

Jena loves having Youssie and Mizi around.

meadowpix03

How are your children and grandchildren? Did you enjoy the holidays?

We barely celebrated–we’ve just been so busy with everything. Plus, since we’re all from different cultures, we’re not really sure what we’d celebrate–maybe everything! Or maybe we’ll invent our own celebracion de familia someday… In the meantime, we’re celebrating the everyday.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the full spectrum of life. I think that for most of my life, I felt that “the bad things” were something to avoid. They were evil intruders that tried to rob us of our happiness. But as I learn more, I discover that the full scope of life–and that includes challenges, disaster, and hardship, too–contribute with all of life’s beauty to helping us live richly, fully, and with vibrancy. We are wired to survive–and wired to thrive. Look at all the good that has come to both of us through all the challenges we’ve embraced.

meadowpix13

Kaitlin, fill me in on all your news, especially on your hopes and dreams and new discoveries!

Happy belated holidays! Let’s talk again soon!

Much love,

Meadow

<< Meadow’s Previous Letter | Meadow’s Next Letter >>