Let your phoenixes arise proudly

My friend Nene wrote recently about his attempt to generate additional readers for his blog, A Man Amongst Fishes, and his resulting failed Tinder hack. I suggested he do the same on Plenty of Fish, in part because of the similarity in website names and because I’d been publicizing my blog on my POF profile for months, and had generated many views thusly.

Nene rejected my proposal: “POF is filled with too many weirdos.” Including me, apparently: I inevitably gravitate towards POF rather than Tinder, as I find Tinder too tame for me, rarely generating worthwhile blog content.

The following story clearly illustrates Nene’s wisdom in staying clear of POF.

Disclaimer: This post is long (approximately 1200 words). However, over 600 of the words contained are not mine, but a necessary quote, which y’all can skip. Therefore, my post is only 600 words of value-added, which isn’t many words at all.

Possible fan mail, via POF

Saturday night, my phone beeped with a POF message. Glancing at the first 2 paragraphs, the message appeared to be about my blog.

Your blog made me a much better human being. It opened my eyes to horizons that I had never expected to exist. Thanks to you, I’m much more successful in my interpersonal relationships.

Gratifying! Slightly perplexing that my occasional comment about everyday racism, sexism or casual rudeness could make such an impact, but hey! Clearly, I’m an agent of change.

I scrolled down his message. And scrolled. And scrolled some more: it was 5 phone-screens long, with 10 numbered bullet-points. As pleased as I was at getting such detailed feedback, it was Saturday night. I left the study of this message until the morrow.

Sunday afternoon, with sunglasses on and diminished brain capacity (accountants know how to party, y’all!), I pulled out my phone and read through that long POF.

 Well, since I didn’t make it to tell you these things face-to-face: I’ve been looking into your blog for some time, I’d like to give you some feedback on it.

2. Your blog made me a much better human being. It opened my eyes to horizons that I had never expected to exist. Thanks to you, I’m much more successful in my interpersonal relationships.

3. I look at your blog and I see 2 written lines and 10 unwritten lines between them. After looking into your blog, I did not come to a conclusion with all of the complexities in your posts. I didn’t know where to begin so I took a Cheshire Cat approach.

5. I believe that each of us has a thoroughbred horse inside. Due to difficult circumstances, mine was badly wounded. A lot of people passed and kicked it. I don’t blame them. Somewhere on the path to adulthood, I learned that “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” They knew very well that if I stand up one day they won’t catch me. I’m happy that now I’m back to the race and none of them would dare to catch me anytime soon. I want to ask you also not to give in. Giving-up button is always on the table. It’s always possible to join the crowd and live the life of 99%. It’s easy to stay passive, to give up and let people treat you like a “Cat Lady”. But this is not the truth; they know that and you know better than anyone else.

6. Before my fall, I was close to the peak. It was a deep chute because I had shot for the moon. It hurt a lot, specifically, that I was lonely stuck in pretty miserable conditions. I was ripped off everything except the fact that I believed in myself. I believed that: a) I deserve the best b) I won’t give up, no matter the consequences.

7. In this process, I learned to love myself first and then love the others after. To forgive myself to forgive the others. To grieve and let the inner child take control time to time. I learned very well that crying is a very healthy thing to happen. It shows that my inner child is alive and keeping on. Crying reminds of my childhood that I had many emotions/feelings inside but no word/tool to express them. This wasn’t easy as an engineer. I trained myself to embrace my imperfection as well as the others’. But I did it and I’m glad.

8. I wish you success in your path through grief and any other conditions that might have arrived to you. Grief is a human-right. Grief is the tunnel between the two realities: the previous excruciating reality and the current reality where the two are separated with the sheer cliff of loss and sorrow. I look at your profile and I can see clearly that you can do it. This is not flattery if you knew me.

9. For a bird stuck in a net, trying to pull harder makes sense in her frame of reference but not in the bigger global observer view. The lesson here is no need to rush and to look for an outside the box solution. I suggest you find someone to listen to you empathetically and free of charge. This will light the path for you incredibly fast.

10. At the end, remember that we have several phoenixes inside us for each skill/phase. When one dies, the young one arises from his father ashes. Let your phoenixes arise proudly.

n.b.b. Shoot me a line if you need help with driving.

Upon first read, it seemed like a well-intentioned, extremely long-winded missive about blog feedback and wildlife; even though most of it was about himself, it appeared to be a misguided attempt to establish common ground between us (pity I don’t much like animals). But after re-reading several times, I allowed myself to feel offended at the multiple references that I needed help (find a free therapist/new friends, driving) or encouragement to not give up on life; offended by his granting me permission to feel what I have been feeling all along (grief, sadness, other), implying thereby that I needed permission for those feelings; and offended by the expected response from me – gratitude for having been written to condescendingly. I suspect that my irritation was aggravated by the fact that I very nearly did feel gratitude for this missive, before the multiple rereads. Close call!

The descent into farce

Of course, I did what any normal person would do in the circumstances. I rose to the bait, and I wrote to him. I thanked him for taking the time to read my blog and write to me, but explained that I was taken aback (so diplomatic!) that most of his feedback involved detailing his personal journey and telling me that I was allowed to grieve and cry, and should seek a cheap therapist or find a new friend.

Unsurprisingly, he did not react positively. Highlights from that online spat include:

  • He regrets that he’ll not be the one to help me;
  • He was being tactful in suggesting a confidante, but he does believe I’d benefit from therapy;
  • Some of my posts indicate potential for self-harm;
  • Given my ADD, my social skills are probably lacking, and therefore it is understandable that my date was rude to me.

I suppose he has a point – I wasted many minutes on that pointless interaction, exposing myself to gratuitous insults from a stranger and getting needlessly upset. Self-harm, indeed.

I’ve consulted my inner thoroughbred horse, and listened to my phoenix: I’m switching back to Tinder.




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