I posted on Instagram the other night that I’ve had a rough year. While I haven’t ‘disappeared’, many of you have noticed that I withdrew a little. My posts have been less personal and more detached. I’ve posted less often. In my facebook group, I’ve relied on my moderators a lot to keep things running smoothly (and they’ve done an amazing job). I’ve been dealing with stuff, and you guys have noticed.
See, I wasn’t prepared for internet ‘celebrity’, it was never what I set out to create. I didn’t create my blog as a brand, and I didn’t have a plan for it. It grew organically. But it grew, and that growth took me by surprise. I wasn’t prepared for the hate (which is a normal outgrowth of having a public persona), and to be honest I wasn’t prepared for the love either. The hate has been hard for me to deal with, but the amount of hate I’ve received pales in comparison to the love – which I am awed and humbled by. I’ve grappled with both, the love and the hate. The love has been enormous, and I value it and recognize it and try every day to deserve it. 🙂
Last spring I think I unlocked some new level of recognition, and began to experience what others in the public eye have since told me is pretty common – the phenomenon of the ‘fan turned hater’. The fact that I talk about subjects that are very emotionally charged (eating disorders, belief systems, ideologies) probably explains the even higher degree of vitriol some of these people express compared to ‘normal haters’. The first couple of times it took me by surprise and really knocked the wind out of me – people who I’d considered friends would turn on me unexpectedly and viciously, kind and supportive one day and spreading horrible (and untrue!) rumors about me the next. I’ve read some really awful things about myself. In one case, it became clear that the person in question had been stalking me for months, gathering personal information and pictures, all the while pretending to be a supportive and trustworthy friend. I’m sure each one of them thinks they are “different” or “smarter” than the others, their “knowledge” of the “true Go Kaleo” is more real than the others. But in reality, they all follow pretty much the same script. Most of the time, I didn’t know what had turned these people against me so suddenly and thoroughly, and I still don’t. Others in the spotlight have said there’s no rhyme or reason, these are people who have certain expectations of you and the minute you don’t live up to those expectations, they turn on you. So I’ve been dealing with some profound feelings of betrayal, as well as the realization that people I’d thought were friends never were – it was the idea of me they had in their head that they loved, not me as a person. They didn’t even really know me. I’ve been mocked, ridiculed, called names, caricatured, threatened, accused and lied about – by people I trusted and cared about. Like I said, I know now that this is normal, typical stuff. But it took me by surprise. And it hurt, and and made me very anxious about trusting.
So I pulled back. I was hurt, and I knew there were people who were stalking my page looking for anything they could twist around to create ugly rumors with. I shared less of myself publicly, and focused more on facts and concepts in my writing, less on the subjective experience of being a woman in this culture.
There were also health consequences of the anxiety of feeling betrayed and the grief of losing what I had believed were friendships. Losing a friend is hard – realizing they weren’t actually a friend in the first place makes it sting just a little more. I have been dealing with chronic pain for years, but it began to grow and take over my life. I’ve talked about the pain on my page numerous times over the last year and wrote about it on my blog, here. The pain began to spread from my knees to the rest of my body. It became less the pain of arthritis, and more a vague ache that crept into every corner of my consciousness. I felt foggy. I couldn’t write, which made things worse because writing is the way I organize my thoughts and process my feelings. Exercise became harder because of the pain, which meant I exercised less, which made the pain worse, which made it harder to exercise. Essentially, a feedback loop developed: the pain made it harder to do the things that help me deal with the pain, which made the pain worse, which made it harder to do the things that help me deal with the pain. And so on and so forth.
I worked with my doctors to modify the pain management treatment protocol that had been working for several years. You can read about that protocol in the blog post I linked above – it involved several mind-body modalities, both traditional and ‘alternative’. It was frustrating. Nothing seemed to help. Months went on and the pain remained.
And then, a couple months ago, we (my doctors and I) decided to try a new direction. I started taking an SSRI that is used to treat chronic pain disorders. And the pain began to recede. And my thinking became clearer, and the anxiety and grief began to fade.
Our physical and emotional lives are so intertwined. Did the pain cause my grief and anxiety? Or did the grief and anxiety cause my pain? It’s more likely they both fed into each other. And grew, eventually becoming more than the sum of their parts. Although I could see what was happening, I didn’t have the ability to ‘snap myself out of it’. There is a lot of fascinating research into this going on right now. We are only beginning to understand it all.
So here I am. I have struggled through pain and grief over the last year, and am coming out the other side. It has given me more perspective. It has given me new insights about humanity. It has hardened me a little in some ways, but softened me in others. It has made me so very, very grateful for all of you who have remained supportive, who’s friendship has proven true, who have laughed with me at the things people think up to accuse me of, who have heard the gossip and rumors and recognized them for what they were, who have allowed me to be a human being with faults, who have remained my friends even when I didn’t do and say things the exact way you wanted me to. Thank you.
I have asked you guys to carry the load a little over the last year, but I am back, my shoulders are strong and ready to bear the weight again.
Lets do this, you guys.