Hate Mail Feels Good…it tickles.

I told a story on a CBC radio podcast (love me) a few weeks back. It was about the deep love I had for my dog Midge, how I rescued her in my 20’s and I carried her around in a baby bjorn and she slept curled around my neck and through taking the time to care for her- a rescue dog with multiple medical conditions – and through healing her she healed me.

And then, of course, a decade late, I got married and had kids and the shit hit the fan. Midge bit the children, drew blood, shat and pissed all over the floor. She was really old now. She hated the kids. She’d scream for hours. They’d love it when she attacked them and they’d fight back. It was a horror show. Laughing babies with blood running down their faces and a shaking Chihuahua. And so I had to make a choice…so you can listen to the story if you want to (but you have to promise not to unsubscribe) HERE. Start in at the 2 min mark…

I wanted to share the hate mail I’ve collected over the past week.

-You should be put in jail.
-You should have your children taken away.
-You should not be allowed near animals.
-I was crying so hard I couldn’t go to work.
-You are a terrible person with no conscience.
-Not fundamental creationists spewing dogma, nor white supremacists hateful marches, not even the idiocy that is Donald Trump has ever had me yelling obscenities at my radio. But how, after your description of such a beautiful relationship, had me yelling at the radio “You Fucking Cunt.”
-You are beyond horrible and quite frankly, unforgivable. 
-You are despicable. I wish she’d never met you.
-Please don’t own any more pets.

I was asked by a woman to re-write the story for her child who heard it on the radio with “the real” ending. She wanted me to console the child with a softer fall.

So I did. I told the child that there are many different perspectives on an event and I chose to focus on the sad side of the story but there was also a happy one. In her new home, Midge got fed fresh chicken and got a lot of cuddles and her new owner noticed when she was in pain and took her to the vet for relief. None of which I had time (at the time) to do.

This is another perspective to the story, just as true and valid. Midge went to “hospice” and died in a feather bed, rather than being attacked by toddlers. The child wrote back and said “your new ending wasn’t happy enough.” I wanted to tell her “you have a roof over your head and food in your belly, get over the boo-hoo’s kid,” but I left it.

I’m a good storyteller. I took my audience down a lane that was hard to hear. I’ve never been told I was worse than Donald Trump and called a “fucking cunt” before.

His perspective.

But I kinda liked it. Every time another hate email would come in I’d giggle and read it to my husband.  I didn’t take it personally. It was funny to me, how I’d created myself into a monster just through telling one side of a story. A few changes of tone and wording and I could have been dog owner of the millennia. But that’s a kinda boring story isn’t it?

But after over 50 hate letters had arrived, I did start to wonder if I’d fucked up, so my radio mentor rallied me with this… “Having a heartbreaking choice is not something that everyone will admit to. This piece is devastating, not least because most of us have buried or disguised our disturbing choices in the telling. You are brave and wonderful, Em.”

Again, another perspective.

And then I got this email. Which for me was the whole point. The reason I share my regrets and shame so publically; because it’s a doorway, an opportunity for deep connection.

“Thank you for so openly sharing your pain so I know I’m not alone in mine.” – a listener.

I did my job.

And like Joan Rivers said “If 50% of the people don’t hate you, you’re not working hard enough.”

I still miss Midge. I still ache for her little body nuzzled into mine. But our stories are prisms and depending on the day and the angle of light and the hate mail received, the reflection back is different. So I’m cool. I loved that little bitch with all my heart and she knew it. Who else would kiss her on the mouth after she licked her own butt?

There is some rock solid truth in this story though. I can confirm that. Through healing her, she healed me and now she’s resting in peace.