Yesterday a blog I posted on OpenSalon, originally called Mother and Child Un-Reunion, ran on the regular Salon site, in the “Real Families” personal essay section. I was honored to be showcased alongside truly exceptional writers such as Eilene Zimmerman and Adina Giannelli.
My post discussed issues relating to my adoption and the odd parallel of that experience in my life currently, as my ex-husband and I are in the midst of a custody battle and I am faced with the prospect of “losing” my son. I wrote about the pain of being separated from Luca, who for complex reasons has lived with his dad full-time since June.
The Salon editor warned me that some of the comments could get “rough.” So I braced myself for some garden-variety snarkiness–but I was almost blown out of the cybersphere by the torrent of Molotov Cocktails hurled my way.
Of the so-far 60 responses to my post, probably ten were reasoned, thoughtful, and insightful reflections on the thorny issues of divorce, custody, and strained parent-child relationships. There was some excellent advice from a family law attorney about owning my role as my son’s mother, whether or not I lost custody. And there was a hopeful, poignant account from a father who has repaired the relationship with the daughter he lost after her mentally ill mother gained sole custody.
The majority of the commenters, however, decided on the basis of a 950-word essay–that many of them did not read carefully–that I was a terrible mother and my son would be better off with his father. Much of the basis for their opinion seemed to come from the fact that I wrote about my own feelings and needs (what good mother has any of those?), which made me “whiny” and “self-serving.” Some of these people were so incensed by the Salon blog, that they went to this blog site to read the rest of my posts in order to gather further evidence of my unfit motherhood. By the time they had their way with me, I felt like Carrie, Hester Prynne and Madame Bovary rolled into one.
I share with you, here, some of my favorite zingers. :
“You are…a ‘pathetic’…’drama queen’…”
“You acted poorly and selfishly. You were self-absorbed when you should have been a mother. Look in the mirror. “
“You sound like a confrontational and high-maintenance individual who sucks all the air out of the room with your neediness…your kid got tired of you leaning on him as your emotional crutch.”
Excuse me, but at what point did I reference using my son as my therapist?
“The author should read up on Axis II Personality Disorders and focus on ‘histrionic’…if she’s really interested in getting better.”
Um, that would be you thinking I’m crazy and need to get “better.” And, no, I’m not impressed that you have a DSM-IV.
“Unless you get serious, non-supportive, challenging therapy you are likely to remain a weekend mom to your son. Trust me, your son will feel abandoned.”
Not satisfied with bashing me alone, this guy decides to aim his blow-torch at all women:
“It’s hard to be empathetic with a divorced vaginate…Feminists make sure that laws don’t burden sistas’ ditzy heads…more misandric mewlings from the gender that claims to be men’s moral, emotional, educational, and relationship superiors.”
Yet another who has a very slight issue with the female gender:
“Your feminist colleagues have played a role in the massive screwing you are about to get. Enjoy your equality, at last.”
Clearly, this reader is clairvoyant:
“She’s already on Husband #2 and no doubt once her court battle is resolved and she’s exhausted her hate against Husband #1 she’ll target Husband #2 and move on to Husband #3.”
And this from one who is convinced Father Knows Best:
“I feel nothing but pity for her son and hope he ends up living with his father.”
Per an earlier blog in which I described my genuine mortification and remorse when my ex heard me complain about him in a therapy session when I accidentally speed-dialed his number:
“Gaines poured out her hateful feelings for Prince in a therapy session that she ‘accidentally’ broadcasted on her cell phone. (Sinister drumroll…) I don’t believe this was an accident.”
And while you’re at it, why not take a swipe at the entire Salon editorial staff for their low standards?
“There is a chance that her son doesn’t like her because she is a horrible mother…even the ‘bad guy’ can write a self-serving blog for Salon.”
Those of us who blog about our personal lives–particularly when those lives involve lightning-rod topics like divorce–should expect to be raked over the coals occasionally, but do we really deserve to be fileted and broiled? Am I old-fashioned to think that Miss Manners has a place even in blogosphere? That if you have only venom to spew, then perhaps you should spew nothing at all? Does it seem to anyone else that the cyber-world is a modern-day Wild West in need of a Sheriff?
Bloggers, I would love to hear your thoughts.