I didn’t cry, vomit, or wet my pants. I didn’t have a panic attack, babble nonsensically, or run crying from the set.
I’m talking about my first little TV interview gig for my book, Sober Mercies, which happened on Saturday. Having shared with you how scared I was, I thought I’d let you know how it went.
The setup could not have been more low key. It was local, taped, and the interviewer was a lovely woman who had already become a friend.
In other words, this was as easy as it’s ever going to get.
So naturally, in the days leading up to the interview, I found a way to turn this fact into a threat: What if I totally botch this baby step? Then I’ll be more freaked out than ever about what’s next!
But God was so patient with me. While he didn’t remove my fear, as the day approached he gently unclenched my fists and invited me to accept that it’s okay to be scared.
Relaxing into fear may sound like backward advice—but it worked for me. As someone prone to panic attacks, what I fear most is my own fear. And since what we resist tends to persist, accepting it actually helped to neutralize some of its power.
Here’s what else helped me. First thing Saturday morning, I noticed a comment on Raw in my email box. These replies tend to be kind, since you have to really like me to want to read the daily minutia I write about there.
But this reader—well, not so much. Among other things, she called me a narcissist bitch and a poor excuse for a Christian.
The comment was so ridiculously mean, and the timing so incongruous—since I was hoping for encouragement—that I broke out laughing. It was a wonderful way to release some of the tension I was feeling that morning.
This wasn’t my first encounter with an “internet troll” (a common term for a person who trolls the web leaving nasty remarks in their wake). But this time, it hit me hard that behind every troll is a human soul.
How must that feel, to carry around so much hate, anger, and meanness?
I understand a little about meanness. Growing up as the family bully, I was so sarcastic and sharp-tongued that for long spells I was banned from the family dinner table. I ate alone in another room or waited until everyone else was done.
Of course, behind all that meanness was a wounded little girl trying to protect herself by lashing out at the world.
I wonder if something similar might be true of my internet troll. And I find myself hoping that wherever she goes (I’m not so narcissistic to think I’m the only narcissist she’s targeting), she’ll receive a gentle answer in exchange for her wrath.
Maybe one day, love will win out.
Maybe one day, she’ll even join me at the table, and I can thank her for her accidental help, and we can both laugh.