**** Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers for those who read. Please proceed with caution.
Why is it that some people have no problem leaving others hanging, when they need them most?
Sometimes, I hate dealing with people. I know that probably makes me sound like some bitter cynic, but right now I’m in a bad place again, thanks to… well, people. More specifically, loved ones. It makes me hate being a part of this world. Being a hermit has its perks that are much more obvious during these times.
This is a long post, but I’m feeling so low right now and need to vent. If you don’t wish to continue reading, though, then I completely understand… I really do.
About two weeks ago, everything started. One of my nephews, with whom I grew up, is currently in Africa. He has been there for almost two months now, and will remain there for another one, before returning home here in the States. I’ve mentioned him before. He is doing missionary work over there, and he is just an amazing inspiration. Well, a couple of weeks back, a conversation began via Facebook, both regarding and involving him. It was a jovial one and full of laughter and creativity. He was joking about how he now has taken on several characteristics of living in Africa, and he made us all laugh. He was trying to prove to us that he’s still his old self, and although he has grown and changed immensely in a spiritual manner, he is still fully in touch with his personality, as it was prior to leaving.
I love and miss him so much, and it was so great to see him interacting in the conversation. He can’t always get access to the Internet, so it’s a nice treat, if you will, when we can talk with him like that. So, that day, he was joking about what I mentioned above, and then I came in telling him that he should know better than to put such ideas into my head. I love creativity and art, and went to school for Media Arts and Design. It only takes a slight deviation from the norm in a conversation (which some might not even notice as a deviation), to spark an idea in my head. Before I knew it, I was imagining my nephew looking exactly as he was describing. (I’m not going into full detail in this post, as you’ll fully understand later on. I’ll explain why then.) So, I started joking that I would put together such an image for everyone to see. I was actually not serious in the beginning. The idea was sparked in my mind, but I didn’t really mean that I’d do it. But, then my nephew, and three other family members said that they couldn’t wait to see the image.
It was then that I decided I would actually do it. The fact that I would wind up doing something “offensive” never even crossed my mind. That was never the intention, and I was going off of my nephew’s comment completely. The design was going to be only what he joked about in his comment.
So, off I went into Photoshop to have some fun. This is part of where my frustration comes into play. This project was something that I worked on during the time I was not feeling so great. It was toward the end of that horrible month I had been having, and so working on this project felt like something positive on which I could focus. And, it helped. I stood up all night working on it, and enjoyed doing so. About halfway through it, though, the thought did finally enter my mind… “Is this offensive in any way?” I stopped and sat back in my chair and took several minutes thinking about it. I looked at the image that I was creating and after intense thought, I decided that it was not offensive.
It was entirely based off of the comment made by my nephew, who is currently living within the African culture. He has been helping these people, loving on these people in God’s name, and getting to know these people who love his, and God’s, presence. The local children there adore him, which does not surprise me one bit, ‘cause he’s a big kid like myself. He has a wonderful personality, which I admire. And, for him to joke about himself in the way that he did, felt like it was innocent.
I finished the project and went on to do my final proofing of it. After I made final changes to it that I felt it needed, I went and posted it on Facebook, where everyone involved in the initial conversation wanted to see it. As anyone with Facebook knows, there is something called a News Feed that places all posts from your friends for all to see. As new posts from friends come in, they push previous posts lower and lower, out of immediate viewing. Well, initially, the day of the posting, I had all three family members who were involved in the original conversation comment. However, after posting the image, I showed it to my mom, which I hadn’t had a chance to do prior, since it was the early morning hours when I finally finished and posted it. Her immediate response was not a positive one. The first thing out of her mouth was, “Are you sure that’s not offensive?” This made me angry. I guess partly, because it was a thought that went through my mind while creating it, but I decided it was ok, due to what I’ve mentioned before.
So, I got the opinion from a couple of family members who were a part of the original conversation, and asked them if they thought it was offensive. They said no, and that they felt it was just humorous and going off of my nephew’s awesome sense of humor. Again, there wasn’t anything disrespectful said. So, I just added a little disclaimer sort of text at the top of the text that I added with the original post (not in the image, but in the FB description box). I stated that due to a comment that my mom made, that I hoped the image was not offensive in any way, since that was not my intention. After that was added, no one said anything about it. No one said that they found it offensive… at least not at that point.
Now, back to everyone’s reactions to the image. My nephew was not going to have Internet access for a couple of weeks, so he was unable to see it just yet. The other three, though, enjoyed it and laughed at it. They thought it was funny and entertaining. The design included my nephew’s quote at the top, and his name at the bottom. It was meant to be a display of him and who he is as a person… his humorous side. A couple of other family members saw it (who were not a part of the original conversation) and they loved it too. It felt good. After a month of feeling like crap, I felt like I had something positive in front of me. I love creating, and it always makes me feel good inside.
However, this is where the positivity ended.
For the last two weeks, no one has commented on the image. That is fine, I don’t ever expect an image to have endless comments on it. Not to mention, due to the way the news feed works, all posts get pushed to the bottom over time. However, whenever someone makes a new comment or “likes” a post, that post (no matter how old it may be) once again gets pushed right back up to the top of everyone’s news feed.
So, this weekend, Saturday to be exact, my nephew was finally able to get online and he saw the image. He loved it. He laughed and told me that he thought it was “incredible”. Followed by that, was another comment by one of my cousins who also loved it and said it was really funny. All of these people know me. They know what my personality is and have invested time in knowing me and who I really am. But, then, came the final comment. One of my cousins who is a college professor in sociology chimed in, and it was not positive. She said that my mom was right, and although it was not my intent, the finished piece is “culturally insensitive”. She said it “stereotypes” the African culture, and then went on to lecture me about the diversity in “language, ethnicity and cultural traditions.” She, then, ended her lecture with a smiley face, as if trying to make it more lighthearted than it was.
I’m sorry, but when you tell me that a piece that I did was culturally insensitive, and then proceed to teach me about diversity in said culture, then don’t expect me to just take your smile, reciprocate it, and then move on as if nothing happened. That is my artwork, which means you are saying that I am culturally insensitive, as it is a product of my mind. And, worse of all, she didn’t say all of us were being insensitive. She only singled out me due to me being the creator of the project. Um… did she not read the eight other comments from various individuals? They loved the piece and enjoyed it, yet I’m the one singled out. Ok, so I’m the creator… I guess I need to expect and accept that. But, this was something that was based on a conversation from two weeks prior, of which she was not a part. She could have been, if she had something to say back then, but she wasn’t, either by choice or due to not seeing it. But, either way, in the end, she singled me out and lectured me in front of all of my Facebook friends and family.
Why could she not just send me a private message? I mean, since she wasn’t calling everyone else out, then why could she not just send me a private message? I would have appreciated that. It would have felt less like a stick-up-her-butt teacher was calling me out in front of a class of my peers. Those peers were just as guilty, if you look at what she’s basing her lecture on. If I was the only one being singled out, then I should have been approached privately.
As I read all of the three new comments on Saturday, the first two positive ones of the day (including my nephew’s – whose was the one I was most anticipating), disappeared behind the cloud of my cousin’s unneeded voice. She ruined a perfectly innocent and enjoyable moment that was being held between loved ones who could appreciate it. We never once put down the culture. We never once made fun of the beautiful diversity which they have. I did not show any disrespectful imagery in my piece. The images I used, that were related to the culture, were free stock photos that were from Africa itself. They were accurate photos from the culture. Yet, she treated me as if I’m some ignorant individual who does not respect the diversity of people. I have always prided myself on respecting all people and their cultures. As someone who was bullied in my childhood, that is the last thing I would ever want to do. I love learning and experiencing other cultures through any means possible. For me, music has been a great way to do so. I used to have a dream to go to Africa and make a documentary on the wildlife there and to showcase the beauty of that continent. But, here is someone who, although she may be my cousin, does not really know me. She has no idea what my life is about right now, or even how it was prior to my diagnosis. And, yet, she treated me as if I was some misguided, oblivious and uneducated person in need of a public lecture.
I wish I could put the quote that my nephew wrote and even share what I did for the image, but I am now worried that I may indeed offend someone. That was never my intent and I do not plan on hurting anyone, if it indeed comes off like that to others.
After reading my cousin’s comment, I burst into tears. I couldn’t stop crying, and began hyperventilating. I tried to focus on my breathing like my therapist has taught me, in order to bring myself back, and preventing a face plant onto the floor. I was just so strongly affected. First, I was being accused of being culturally insensitive. That alone is such a negative and repulsive attribute in my eyes, and I did not want to be seen in such a light. All of the smiley faces in the world are not going to make that comment come off lightly. And, then, on top of all of that, I felt as if I was being left to hang by my family. The ones involved in the original conversation, were suddenly silent. I didn’t see the comment until four hours after my cousin posted, yet suddenly, all went silent in the chat.
No one spoke up for me. No one said, “Hey, it was all of our ideas really.” Or, “Hey, why only attack Summer? We’re all a part of it.” Nope, all went quiet. I received two text messages from two of the individuals, but they did not help ease my hurt feelings and anger. I appreciate that they sent me comforting words. I love these two people dearly, and that’s why it hurt even more. The text messages made me angrier, though. Why did those people have no problem speaking out and publicly encouraging me to do the project? These people were saying that they couldn’t wait to see it, and then laughed and cheered at the final project. However, when someone lectures me, in public, for all of my family and friends to see, they all become silent, except for one. She was the only one who actually said something eventually, later in the day. I know my nephew would have spoken up too, if he had seen the comment, but the comment was placed after he logged off. He only gets a short time online when he can get it, so he didn’t have the chance to view it.
I was so upset and emotionally drained. I felt like the positive mood that had been slowly rising after that recent crappy month, was now suddenly pushed back down with a force of gravity that I had forgotten even existed. I dropped so fast that I didn’t even know it hit me, until later that day. It wasn’t a moment where I was going to cry and be angry, but then it would pass. This was different. It was lonely, and it felt as if I had been abandoned. My therapist described it as; “They threw you to the wolves.”
So, a short time later, after reading my cousin’s comment, I deleted the image. I also posted a statement on my wall, saying that I removed the image. In addition, I apologized for any offense that I may have caused, and reiterated that it was never my intent. It was then that I got the response from that one person I mentioned earlier. She was one of the original people in the initial conversation, and the only one who defended me publicly. I am so grateful for that. I sent her a private message thanking her. It meant a lot to me. I appreciate the texts that I received from the other two individuals, but it hurt how I was left to fend for myself in an issue in which we were all involved. My cousin who lectured me also chimed in on that new wall post. She said that she didn’t mean to make me feel bad. Um… really? I don’t know how someone – especially someone who teaches sociology – cannot realize that making such a public statement, calling me out in front of everyone, would not make me feel bad. That is just more proof that she doesn’t know anything about me, or who I am as a person. I love her, but she hurt me. I ignored her second comment, and did not respond. It’s for that reason that I responded privately to the family member who defended me. I didn’t want to make the problem bigger than it already was for me, by obviously ignoring my cousin’s comment, while thanking my other family member.
I never wanted to offend anyone with my artwork. That is why I deleted it. I did not want to keep the image up, if it was going to cause offense. When necessary, I will defend my artwork. But, this was different. This was an accusation of being disrespectful to my fellow human beings, and that was something that I was not going to contest. If one person saw it that way, then others would too, and I did not want to be a person who is oblivious to her own mistakes. Maybe it was a mistake to create the image in the first place, but a public reprimand, no matter how smiley it may have been made to feel, is what was wrong. That’s no better than a backhanded comment. I deserved better than that. It only makes me feel like less of a human being. Maybe that’s my punishment for being so insensitive to my fellow man. Maybe that is God’s way of saying, “Next time you need to listen to Me.” I feel like maybe I ignored Him that night when I was creating it. He was talking to me for those minutes when I had doubt, and I still decided it was ok. I guess I’m really angry with myself for it all too. I made a mistake that shows a side of myself that I didn’t know existed, and I don’t like at all.
So, I’m back down again. This has once again triggered me, and this time it’s worse than the last month’s depression. On Saturday, I had already planned to clean a rack in our kitchen that needed organizing. My entire family was going to a wedding of one of my cousins, and so my mom and I were going to be the only ones home to do the work. I had the work planned, but then felt like not doing anything after the whole Facebook experience. But, I thought that maybe I could clean my anger away. However, unlike the last month’s episode, it didn’t work. I was able to forget at times, but most of the time, I was off and lost in thought. My mom had to repeat things to me, ‘cause I was so out of it. Then, I’d pick up again, and forget about the experience, as I was sweating and hot doing the work. I was organizing and it was relaxing. But, then the thoughts returned, along with the tears.
It has just been a different experience this time. I am way lower and filled with way more anger. My anxiety is bad and I’m sleeping even worse than I was the previous episode. I’ve stared at my pills with thoughts that I do not like, and I’m feeling so alone. I debated writing that here, but decided maybe it will give me some accountability to let people know that those thoughts are going through my mind. I don’t write that to scare people, and please don’t think I’m going to do anything. It’s just that the thoughts have been swirling in my head all weekend, and continue to do so. I saw my therapist today, and she wants me to see her again on Wednesday. She didn’t even give me the choice this time. She said it was a must that I see her. That scares me.
As a result of all of this, I’ve deactivated my Facebook account for the time being. I’ve talked about the negative aspects of Facebook, which I’ve experienced, in my post Bipolar Is Not An Adjective, and this time I realized I needed to cut myself off from it. I didn’t delete the account, just suspended it for the time being. I don’t know for how long, but I need to get away from all involved, and from everyone else. The way I feel right now is when I’m heading into darker territory. It’s best for me to stay away, or I may say something that I regret and cause irreparable damage in my relationships, even to people who are not involved in this mess. I don’t want to do that. I love all involved, and all of my other family and friends. And, I don’t want those involved to think I hate them. I don’t hate them, but it’s best I stay away. And, I need to be alone with how I feel, ‘cause none of them understand.