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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ask Lib #1

For a long time now, I’ve been rather jealous of Rosie’s section on her website called Ask Ro.  I’ve considered putting in a cute little box in my sidebar, a nice “Ask Liberty” where folks could ask me anything, but a) if people wanna ask, I apparently am approachable enough they just, well, ask and b) having an open (and moderately anonymous) way to throw vitriol my way would most likely only serve to be damaging, which while it may potentially amusing to some of my readers, well, it would not so amusing to me.

However, some questions privately asked deserve public response, especially when they are such worthy questions as the one one of my readers, Dar, has thrown my way:

Dear Liberty,
Please tell me why, what, who hates you?

I pulled the question out of a much lengthier conversation, but the pith is in that very question.  Even though Dar is referring to a very specific circumstance, the question is solid enough to be asked about in a general sense. 

The answer is universal, regardless.  So here goes.

Dear Dar,

I guess the simplest way to describe other people’s attitudes toward me is that there are three types of people in this world.  There are people who love me, people who hate me, or people who don’t know me.  This third has a subcategory, as I have recently been made aware, which is people who don’t want to know me.  This subcategory is baffling to me, since if I had a chance, I would get to know everyone, even the folks I don’t particularly like.  It’s in my blood to get to know, to dig deeper, and to understand my fellow human beings.  Be that as it may, there are some people who intentionally choose to isolate themselves from me for whatever reasons. So that’s a base from which to work on the “Who?” part of the question.  I guess 1/3 of all people, if those categories are divided up equally, though I doubt that’s the case.

As I am unsure of how long you have been a reader or how much of my words you have read, I am unsure of how well you know me.  By know, of course, I mean in the very general sense of knowing someone that one can have by reading mere words and never having met face to face or shared in a two-way conversation.  At least we can assume that you know more than I do of you, since I’ve put myself out there in a very public way.  It is also fair to assume that what you do know is only what I have presented here, which is clearly not the full extent of who I am.  Still, perhaps one of the most fundamental characteristics that defines me and one that I think shows in my writing as well as in my every day living, is my ability, propensity, and absolute drive to “call it like I see it” in such a way that is raw, un-sugarcoated honesty.  I deliver the truth


without spicing it up, hiding it, or making it look pretty.  As long as that honesty is not targeted too closely to anyone’s own personal heart and does not oppose their own logic or feelings, most people seem to adore and value my stereotypical Sagittarian ways.  All kinds of people from different ages, backgrounds, and situations come to me to ask me what I think, simply because they know I will give them a straight answer.  People know that if they ask me a question, I will give a definitive answer that they can rely on as being precisely what I mean and how I mean it. 

This works really well when what I have to say is what people want to hear.  “Yes, that color really brings out the color of your eyes and makes your complexion glow,” isn’t me blowing smoke up someone’s ass.  That’s exactly how I see it and it’s precisely what I think.  I’m not saying it to befriend someone.  I’m not saying it to flatter or earn brownie points, it’s what I think.  That’s how I roll and it’s who I am.

The obvious problem arises when I have an opinion that is difficult to hear.  You see, I don’t have automatic censors that tell me to shut-the-fuck-up when I’m treading on emotional land mines.  If I tell someone “yeah, those jeans definitely make you look fat,” or “What the hell are you thinking quitting your job?” it doesn’t occur to me (on almost any level) that I might be striking a tender nerve or that I have just given someone such a deep complex that they’ll never wear jeans again for fear of looking fat.  I don’t realize that someone might be asking me because they want to hear that I love them no matter how their wide load looks (which of course I do!) or that “everything will work out” (because it will!)  It completely misses my blind spot when someone asks me something not wanting an automatic and honest response, but, well, something else which could vary from sympathy to reassurance to comfort to God knows what.  It’s not generally intentional insensitivity.  It’s not truly me just being a heartless bitch.  There’s just a wide gaping hole in my understanding and abilities that leaves me completely unaware and unavailable in certain capacities. 

While I am perfectly aware and have been working hard


on my skills relating to diplomacy and honesty without emotional barbs, it’s still a weakness.  People (myself especially and included) are not very forgiving of weaknesses.  Thus, when I do heedlessly (ruthlessly?) trample on feelings, people tend to feel, oh, I don’t know, resentful, angry, even, you know, hateful.  Compound this problem with the fact that by their very nature, women lean toward henlike behavior, so if my indiscretion is done in a public format, say a website, an email list, a room full of middle aged mothers with such insecurities as to have to attack the weak of the pack simply so that they themselves are not attacked, well, then I have my very own death-match stadium, my own razor sharp words and often cutting wit against someone who is feeling defensive, resentful, angry, even, you know, hateful.  Words fly, cheering (for both sides) ensues, and before you know it, someone (if not just about everyone) is left broken and bloody, at least emotionally, and there aren’t any winners.  A residual distrust continues on for days, weeks, months, lifetimes, and even those who were cheering for my side are lurking about worrying when my words will turn on them.  At least, they worry about it if they’re smart enough to bother.

Even though my initial intent may be that of good, wanting to warn someone or advise them in order that they may better their situation, (“Maybe you should work harder on getting a job rather than trying to scam the government out of money?”) or maybe it’s just me saying exactly what everyone else is thinking, (“Dayum, woman, your husband is an ass, why do you put up with his shit?”) me opening my fat mouth doesn’t always work out for the best.  In recent months, it’s left me feeling very, well, quiet.  Withdrawn.  To myself.  I don’t say what I mean and I don’t mean what I say.  I’ve not been true to myself, but I haven’t trampled anyone in my headlong journey into what I perceive as truth.  I’ve not been offering advice, because I’m afraid of the consequences.  I’ve not given out opinions unless specifically asked.  While I haven’t caused any major train wrecks, I have to admit, I’ve felt a bit disconnected from the world.  Ah, but that’s writing for another time.

So, Dar, in a nutshell, people hate me because of my indiscreet and tactless ways of presenting my opinions.  People love me for my directness and unaffected responses.  While a middle ground would be heavenly, I’m not precisely good with moderation or balance, so I guess I am one of the countless other “take me as I am” folks out there who either rub people the wrong way or endear people to preposterousness.

Sincerely (as always),


*The truth is out there, kids, the problem being that it is extraordinarily subjective, and most definitely given over to misinterpretation or skewed perspectives, two complications to which I am most certainly not immune.

**One year of therapy next month!

Posted by Liberty on 12/23 at 07:27 AM
Posted under: See-Through31 Days

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Pooka Pooka  at  12/23/06 07:13 PM

The difference between making an honest statement and one that is hateful has nothing to do with its accuracy.  Intent is the foundation.  We can tell when you love us, for you tell us what we should know, rather than what we want to hear.  Bless you.

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