“Love yourself like your life depends on it. Because it does.” ~Danielle LaPorte
Thank you website impersonator. I appreciate you. In fact, you may be one of my best teachers.
Most people wouldn’t normally think of extending gratitude for someone who steals your words, impersonates your personal story, and uses your images online. Neither did I when I realized that an anonymous source had lifted not just my blog posts, but images of my daughter and specific characteristics of my life on their website.
Truth be told, I was outraged. This took intent. This took more than just a simple action of copying and pasting a few blog posts.
I’d only discovered this copycat website by chance. After a month of ignoring what I assumed were marketing emails from my website hosting company, I stopped long enough to pay attention.
Hadn’t I shut down this website a year ago? Indeed. I had allowed an old blog to go dark without ever realizing that the day after my site went offline, another was born—with not just the same URL, but an author who presented herself with my first name, my past career, and my medical history. The resemblance was remarkable.
Once the outrage simmered to a low boil, I went into action mode. Google and Facebook became my teachers for cease and desist language and the protocol for a digital takedown. But the more effort I put into wanting to “fight,” I also felt resistance.
Does it really matter? The pirated site was about to expire anyway—was this really what I wanted to put my energy into? Wouldn’t it take away from my real work? My soul’s purpose? I wondered if maybe this was an invitation to practice acceptance and compassion. Could I just let this go and release the grip on my story?
The more I struggled with how to feel and what to think, the more detached I became. The more others around me took up the fight, with rage-y anger and thoughts of legal action, the more I retreated into a chorus of “I don’t have the energy for this.”
It felt too overwhelming. Too daunting. Just too much.
I didn’t know much that day, but I knew I needed to get myself to a yin yoga class.
And then it hit me. Or rather, the importance of this lesson found me.
There I was, supporting myself with elbows pressing into my mat in sphinx pose. Our teacher invited us to allow our bellies to soften toward the earth. At once, it was as if all of the emotions that I’d been trying to resist were leaking out of me. I couldn’t have stopped the tears from flowing if I tried. Drip after drip, the feelings started to spill out. And as they did, I heard a voice from within.
It does matter. It is important. It is worth your energy. You do matter. You are important. You are worth your energy.
It wasn’t just about the website that used my first name and life story anymore. I started to feel the flashes of the past move through me.
The moment that I told myself that my (ex) fiancé cheating on me and leaving me right before my bone marrow transplant was okay because we’d been handed circumstances that we could never have envisioned at a young age.
The time that I divorced my first husband and made peace with mediation and his wishes because it would just be better for my young daughter if I made things easy.
Decades of never correcting people when they mispronounced my first name, because really….”I answer to anything.”
It was as if I was looking at the lifetime of “it doesn’t matter” moments in a mirror, each one, burying my own self-worth even deeper into the ground.
These two simple words, layered with so much emotion, burst out of my heart through the tears.
Of all the moments in my life, it took a website impersonator to help me decide that I matter. That I am worth it.
Perhaps I hadn’t been ready before to find this sense of devotion to my worth. Perhaps the challenges and obstacles of my past were all part of the training that I needed to tend to my wholeness.
How many times had I relied on the theory that I should pick my battles? Not standing up for what was important because, in the big scheme of things, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
I’m a mom of a teenager, so picking my battles is par for the course. And I believe that there are, indeed, something things that are better released than forced. But at what point does each decision actually chip away at our own self-worth? How can we be compassionate and empathetic beings while still honoring our worthiness and value?
At what point do we decide that our hearts are sacred altars that need tending?
The good news is that a simple and not very legal sounding email did the trick to entice the anonymous website owner to take down images and stories that were mine. And I’m thankful for that. But I’m even more grateful for this gut-punching nudge because the days of self-deprecating not-a-big-deal moments are over. They have to be.
So many of us wrangle with the beast of mattering and worthiness. I’d even believed that I’d tamed it in the past, but in fact, the thread of stories of making things easier for others or feeling like it would be better to blend into the background was sturdier than I thought.
It is in these moments of challenge or contrast that we have a choice. To stand up for our self-worth. For our voices. For our stories. To make the decision to finally stand tall in the belief that we matter.
While picking and choosing our battles might be a powerful parenting tool, we have every right to speak up when someone disrespects us, disregards our needs, or minimizes our feelings. It does matter. And it’s not being oversensitive, rude, or dramatic.
Every time we speak up and recognize that we are honoring our inner value, we reinforce to ourselves that our feelings and needs are important—that we are important, just as important as anyone else.
When we believe this, we act like it. We take better care of ourselves. We set healthy boundaries. We listen to the little voice inside that tells us when something isn’t right for us. And we allow ourselves the space to pursue our dreams and reach our potential, which enables us to make a positive difference in the world. The flip side is true as well. The more we act like we matter, the more we believe it.
It all starts with saying, “Yes, I do matter.” Now, I know I do. Do you?