Recent conversations about having a nemesis seem to have struck a chord. It’s unfortunate so many people can relate, but I’m glad we’re talking about it. There are some meaty comments in my post about this, which I recommend you read.

One comment, in particular, I think deserves its own post.

I heard this refrain quite often when I was in the trenches with my nemesis – that she was jealous and had too much time on her hands.

I disagreed with both assertions back then, and I still do. They seem lazy to me. Sometimes people are actually and properly hateful, and we shouldn’t explain it away by either flattering the victim or insulting the hater.

Most people wanted me to feel better and so they reminded me that I had achieved some visible success; they were flattering me and they were comparing me to my nemesis, who perhaps had not achieved the same kind of success. I appreciated that and still do, but though being under attack hurt like hell, I didn’t need people to try to make me feel better, especially through flattery. I needed to feel the pain, and that pain was okay. It was justified and warranted under the circumstances, and without it I would not have grown in the ways that I did.

Think about how you parent your kids, if you have kids. Think about how they respond when you acknowledge and validate their pain versus when you try to distract them away from it and bombard them with promises that everything will be okay. My two-year-old even responds differently to these approaches. Sure, he’ll be distracted by the latter, but he relaxes by the former. Though it pains me when he feels pain, I recognize from my own experience, as we all must, that pain is a part of life. I want him to know he can come to me when he’s hurting and that I’ll listen to him and he’ll be safe. I want him to learn to calm himself down when he’s angry. I want him to know that sadness is okay, and I want him to learn that happiness will eventually come back.

As an adult, I want my peers and loved ones to do the same for me. I want to know that it’s safe to feel my pain, that help is there for me if or when I seek it out, and that what I’m feeling is okay. My nemesis hurt me deeply. It sucked, but it’s okay. I didn’t need to gloss over it by explaining it away in fantasy. I was able to heal, I think, because I dealt with it. All of it.

As for having too much time on her hands. This one is a doozy, and it comes up as an explanation for misunderstood or odd behaviour all the time. I don’t think it’s ever fair to say. It’s not fair when people say it about crafters, right? We all get our hackles up when some unimaginative commenter or blogger or journalist says that the maker of some elaborate and unusual thing has too much time on their hands. It implies they should be doing “better” things with their time. But who are we to say what a good use of time is for anyone but our own selves? Even when it comes to someone being hateful.

So I rejected, and still reject, the assertion that if my nemesis were more busy she wouldn’t have been so awful to me. No. We choose how we spend our time, and she chose to spend some of hers, a few years ago, lashing out at and about me. How she spent the rest of her time is irrelevant. Whether she put off doing other things in order to make time for telling me off or just woke up with a free morning one day and decided to spend it ripping me a new one, her behaviour spoke for itself.

It's too lazy to say, "She's jealous and has too much time on her hands."

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Lovely post, as always, Kim!

Hmm… the “too much time on your hands” thingie! (Yes, thingie!) On the one hand, I hate it, it’s lazy and, well, just plain dumb. On the other hand, I think that negative people have “too much negative energy on their hands!” And instead of taking that negative energy and turning that into something good, they reinforce the negative energy by being all negative about someone else.

One of the best decisions I ever made was to never tear anyone down (not counting constructive criticism) in my work, and to only build people up. Any haters I have had I’ve just taken them as people to learn from (as, as you note, they tend to harp on what we’re already insecure about, so they are teachers, in a sense, in acceptance!) and to not be like, because, y’know, haters gonna hate (and spin in that negative energy and go nowhere, figuratively or literally). x

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x