Essays, general essay

Stray Thoughts – When It Feels Like the Trolls Are Winning

St.ThereseQuoteThis morning I woke up in a foul mood. Now, this may have something to do with some minor hormonal mess-up that we believe I’m dealing with (as in we don’t even know if that’s the problem). In any case, I spent a good chunk of my morning raging internally at a former partner of mine who done me wrong then tried to blame it on me because she couldn’t get a hold of me.

Let’s not get into the fact that a) she did get a hold of me twice, and b) I am not at all hard to find. The bottom line is that the situation has been dealt with. I came out ahead. I do know better than to let these sorts of things take up real estate in my brain. And, finally, silly me, I keep aspiring to a vocation of love. I may not be able to do much, if anything, to change our world, but I can be as loving and kind as possible.

Except that what I wanted to do was scream at this freaking idiot about what a freaking idiot she is and maybe slap her around a little. Not very loving. I get that. May I point out that this loving thing is mostly aspiration, not actuality yet?

So I’m talking to my girlfriend, who has a real-life troll persecuting her, and we both agreed it’s frustrating as hell. The ding-a-ling in this case is also going around pretending to be a pillar of the community and supporting business even as she’s doing everything she can to malign my friend and her business.

The author of a blog I like to read came out with her latest – and largely legitimate – rant about the generally hell-bound state of the world. Now, it may be my historical bent, but I am of the opinion we’ve been pretty much hell-bound since we crawled out of the soup. But let’s take it as a given that things are looking particularly hell-bound of late.

In all of these three situations, decent people are feeling downright ornery for very good reason, and there isn’t a heck of a lot we can do about it except be the bigger person. Even if I wasn’t trying to be more loving, calling my former partner a freaking idiot isn’t going to change a damn thing. My friend’s troll has been called out as a hypocrite and it went right past her. The blog author conceded that screaming at the idiots of the world doesn’t do anything.

And it’s not surprising, really. If someone calls me a freaking idiot, you can bet my response is not going to be “Oh, you’re right. I will reform my life now.” Nor does calling these idiots out as idiots feel anywhere near as good as you’d think it would. Okay, the well-aimed and witty riposte to someone’s stupidity can be fun. But raging at someone, even when I’m right? Nah. That pretty much sucks.

But I have to admit that being the bigger person, that’s not very satisfying either some days. There may be part of me that is worried that I am going to have to call the lawyer on my former partner at some point, something I don’t want to do, let alone that she might prevail (not likely given that she couldn’t even find some current paperwork). My friend is definitely worried about her business, which faces enough challenges as it is. And the rest of us worry about what might happen if the idiots get elected.

But maybe it’s not about being satisfied. That’s what I like about that quote from St. Theresa of Lisieux above. Here was a woman who was obviously very keyed into God and frequently didn’t feel the love and the kindness and compassion. But she chose to sing as if she did, not to fake it, but to connect herself to the person she wanted to be.

So maybe it’s about going beyond what we wish we felt and keeping up the struggle to reframe our thinking in ways that address the idiocy, but with love and kindness.┬áMaybe my job is to look past my former partner’s stupidity and see the panicked, hurt woman that she is and find some compassion for her. And I probably won’t succeed all the time. But it’s better than giving the troll more brain real estate than she deserves. And ultimately, it’s not about being the bigger person, it’s about becoming a better person.

Anne Louise Bannon

4 Comments

  1. It’s hard not to get cynical, Anne. I know I’m struggling with that too. This is the first time I’ve read that quote from St Therese and I love it. Thank you for sharing.
    I hope your issues with your ex-partner get sorted out without you having to take the legal route.

    • Thanks for the good word, Corinne. I know what you mean about being cynical – it’s way too easy. But there has got to be a happy medium between negativity and fakey happy, happy, joy, joy.

  2. Very thought-provoking. I find myself in a dual place with a current commenter who keeps coming back to tell me I’m wrong. On one hand, I want to deliver a zinger and vanquish her forever, and on the other, I want to practice what the post is about, which is recognizing when people use maladaptive strategies as a tool rather than a weapon. They way I go in any moment depends on if I’m tuned into my lower or higher self.

    Thank you for this quote from St Therese about finding and operating from my core (that’s what it means to me).

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