Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Of course I do it. Every few days as a matter of fact. Certainly at least once on the weekend. Google is made for that purpose, I'd suppose. As a result, when I find myself bored or am fiddling with time like a little girl with a lock of hair, I put 'hingsburger' into Google and see what comes up. Last Saturday, home from a trip and deciding not to leave the house for the day, I was playing Spider on the computer and then decided to Google myself (that sounds racy but isn't).

There were something like 10,300 pages that referenced the name Hingsburger. Then, because I had loads of extra time, I did something I don't do. I decided to take a look at some of the pages. The first I went to was written by someone who had recently seen me lecture, and that was the subject of their blog. OK, so far, so cool. Then I plunged in to read what they had said. Not said privately to a friend, mind, but publically to the world.

I was brought up short. This was a fairly nasty attack. Not on my ideas (that I can take, even enjoy) but on me, my weight, my looks, my way of being in the world. I felt bile rise in my throat and I glanced up at the name of the person who wrote the blog. Didn't recognize the name, no surprise. Then I went for their picture. I figured we must have had a nasty interchange and the blog resulted from it. But the picture held no clue as to who this person was, I am fairly certain we've never met, never spoken. I finished the blog and was really, really upset.

Why I should worry about the rambling writings of a total stranger who decides to critique me as a person rather than my ideas as a thinker - I don't know. Why I should carry some of those words around with me, have them attached to me like the chain that Marley's ghost hauled round - makes no sense. Goodness knows I get enough praise. But, given my rearing, I mistrust praise and believe criticism.

Oddly, this week, I spent time with the team that will be teaching 'self esteem' classes for people with disabilities at Vita, we are working at developing a pre and post test so that we can measure the effectiveness of the teaching. The three of us sat and talked about what self esteem meant. One of the questions that they had come up with was 'How would you feel if someone called you a name?" What a good question - and one that I would fail, miserably.

I know that I teach others about this, but I admit that I have my own 'issues' to work through. I get that someone who doesn't know me writing a personal attack against me is, ultimately, meaningless. That their motives must be questioned more than their words. But maybe a history of being told, not called, that I was ugly, stupid, worthless -is difficult to kill and easy to resurrect.

It's four day's later and I'm still feeling bruised by the words. Joe wanted to know the blog address of the writer and I've refused to give it to him, and I will refuse you as well, I don't want a sudden increase in their stats because of me sending you there, I also - honestly (and weirdly) don't want people going there, reading those words, and then realizing 'hey, right, Hingsburger is a fat, ugly, jerk, why am I reading his blog' and you all going away.

See me in the afternoon using a wheelchair, assume that's my disability.

See me with my huge fears of inadequacy and worthlessness in the early hours of the morning, see my actual disability.


Susan said...

I'm glad it's a little later in the morning, Dave, and as the light grows, I hope you are knowing more and more that you are loved for who you are- whatever package you come in - and respected for what you do. That is the TRUTH.

I guess you should feel at least a little proud about being rejected by that person. My guess is that you're in really, really good company. Like with Jesus, for instance...

(But it still sucks.)

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. I think when a child is told those things growing up it stays with them forever, especially when the person or people telling them is someone who is supposed to love them. I had a wonderful mother who loved me and told me I was wonderful. I had a horrible father who told me I was stupid and ugly and worthless. Which one do you think I believed?
Today I am a mother of three wonderful kids. I have accomplished a lot. Even though I know that it says more about the person he was than the person I am, it doesn't take much to convince me even today that I am stupid and ugly and worthless.

rickismom said...

Look, not everyone will agree with you nor be comfortable with your lifestyle. I will be honest enough to say that , as an Orthodox Jew, when I quote you on my blog, I often add a sentence that this quote does not imply idolizing you. But my private beliefs are mine (as long as I do not hurt others with them), just as your life is yours. Open-mindedness means that we accept that others will think/act differently than we expect.
However,There is an ILLNESS called "loving to put others down", and it is pretty widesread. (Like epidemic). There are always people like that.
Once a lady said something terribly hurtfull to my husband about me, and continued on without as much as a pause after exploding her bomb. It really rankled me for a while (a few years?) (and I was NOT raised with people putting me down)... but eventually I realized that this was a person who routinely drives over other people's emotions with a steam-roller of fault-finding.
If you go back to the blog of the person who wrote about you negatively, I bet you 95% that you will find more of the same as most of the blog.
And if this is so, do you really want such an __________ ruling your thoughts? You need to change the radio station in your mind to another channel......

andrea said...

I was a scrawny, short, smart kid with glasses who sometimes had trouble enunciating words, was exceptionally bad at sports, read geeky books, struggled academically (for reasons unknown at the time), and never did learn everyone's names.

Actually, I'm much the same, except adult height.

You see Dave, it's not the details that really matter. It's not how thin or fat your are, or whether you use a wheelchair or can't walk across the room without tripping over your own feet, or struggle to recognise faces or remember hundreds of them.


Shocking, I know. Because the invective is targeted at you. I'm sorry, but it isn't. It's about the other person's inadequacies.

You can't make them Get Over It (although you can try). But as you mention in your own talks, the only behavior you can change is ... your own.

Some people are arses. A lot of people just act like arses. And we can't be bothered to stew on it and let ourseves be trapped by their stupidity, by giving the bullies "outposts in our heads".

This was especially so when I was working (as a staff member) at the same school where I'd been bullied, with even worse-behaving students. I can't afford to curl up and die just because someone calls me a "F---g B---h" (again), or a "F---g Idiot" (like my mom did).

Maybe it's time for a re-read of The Words?


Rosemary said...

Being fat myself, I have received hurtful comments from perfect strangers and, worst still, from my family about my weight. My mom thinks thin people are "it". The kind of person one is doesn't seem to matter. I have mostly learned to tune the hurtful stuff out, but it is still hiding deep inside. Why oh why do folks think it is ok to say such things?

I wish that you hadn't read the strangers page. I wish that you were not hurt by such a shallow individual. I wish that you will realize how many folks respect you for who you are, how you live, and what you do.

Shan said...

Kiss, hug, cup of tea for you Uncle Dave.

FridaWrites said...

I'm fat now too and have noticed a huge change in the way people treat me on that basis in addition to the disability. I wish that person would show you empathy and hear what you're saying, because they're kind of missing the point in a major way!

Words really can hurt. I'm sorry you feel hurt. I hope you listen to everyone else about how valuable you are.

Nicole said...


Sounds like someone is weak and thinks that attacking you is a way to validate themselves. That's sad.

We all know how beautiful you are Dave!

Linda said...

I know it hurt but please don't let anyone take your power away! You have worked hard to find the divinity within and to let that light shine.
Say no Dave, challenge the negative voice and thinking.
Love to you
Linda (LinMac)

Danielle said...

We know about your weight.

We know about your looks.

We know that you are gay.

We know that you use a wheelchair.

We know that you have health issues.

We are still here.

One person's opinion does not matter.

When you stop having visitors to your blog... when everyone starts feeling the same way as that one person... then you can worry.

Until then, you keep doing what you are doing. Because you are damn good at it.

Your looks, weight, sexuality and disability only add to your ability to help people. Because you understand adversity and insults. That's needed in being able to relate to other people in similar situations.

It's hard for you to deal with it, but it makes you more able to help others.

It's true, I promise.

Keep it up.

Veralidaine said...

Tsk, Dave! No more of that name-googling. It's just a high-tech version of eavesdropping in the middle school locker room.

Do you know who you are?

Do you know what you stand (sit) for?

Do you feel good about the answers to both of the above?

If so, no need to google your name-- you've got all the information that you need.

gracie1956 said...

Well, all the good stuff has been said! I'll just add this...It is none of my business what other people think of me! Chew on that for a while. I think it makes life a little sweeter...and I just assume everyone likes me...except when I don't. We are all just alike, same pain, same insecurities, same need for love. I don't have you listed in my "favorites" for nothing. I think you are WONDERFUL.

Shan said...

I Googled you today, Dave. I didn't find the blog you mentioned, but I found these. All paragraphs are from different sites:

Dave Hingsburger is a well known speaker, consultant, writer, and champion for people who have been ignored, abused, or mistreated by society. He is a primer leader in the field that supports people with intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities. And, he’s a great guy. Hope House loves Dave Hingsburger (probably more than he knows).

This was my first introduction years ago to the presence that is Dave Hingsburger. He is a renowned sexuality consultant, lecturer, speaker and alarmingly prolific author. He doesn’t mince words and he has a lot of them. His admonitions can be as razor sharp as his wit and praise. People who hear him speak leave like so many limp dishrags from laughing, crying, raging, thinking. It is exactly the response Hingsburger wants. To be in Hingsburger’s presence is to be changed, lifted by the lapels, status quo shaken, then gently lowered to the ground. You are not the same afterwards.

Any one of Dave’s blog entries would have done to illustrate his gift for getting to the heart of the matter, for “getting it” and for telling a great story that you can take away and use. He generously gives permission for anything he writes there to be shared with others. We chose this one because it is about a little guy with Down syndrome, and we can all relate to that. Dave started the blog late in 2006, so there is only a small archive – we’re pretty sure you’ll want to read all of them, and then bookmark it for regular reading.

The topic may sound like dry reading, but Hingsburger is never dry reading. He draws (as always) on his own experiences in the human services field and the way in which he's matured in relation to those experiences. And he (as always) doesn't shy away from topics most people in his field ignore.

Maybe it's just an accident of history, my fondness for Dave Hingsburger's work. "You gotta read this book," I catch myself saying, over and over again. "Here, lemme write it down for you. Do you need the URL of a place you can get it?" There are a lot of books I love, a lot of writers I admire, but I've noticed over the past year that the titles I bother to write down for people are his more often than not.
Hingsburger the behavioral consultant may be of interest to a limited audience; Hingsburger the ethicist, however, addresses issues which are important as, mindful of the issues raised by disability, we consider what equality means, what justice means, and how we ought to live.
You gotta read these books.

*"Disphobia" is a word that we first heard from David Hingsburger, who is many things but can be described as a disability rights activist, author, and speaker. His work has made and continues to make a very important contribution to the development of LiveWorkPlay. Google him if you want to check him out, he's got a great blog.

Over the years his work has included the areas of behavior, communication, sexuality and self
advocacy — but the constant theme has been his respect for both the individual with disabilities and the staff who support them.
David resides in Canada but travels the continent spreading his words of wisdom.

Dave Hingsburger at Chewing the Fat has an uncanny ability to fully realize a moment; his words make small snippets from his life timeless. His blog is the camera I always wanted to record my own life with...but, of course, with more meaning and grace than mine would ever have (I'm awfully cheap). Hug, huge fan.

Best All Around: I'm fast becoming addicted to Dave Hingsburger's blog Chewing the Fat, but it's hard not to when one encounters passages like this:
It came clear to me that 'choice' could only be made where there was both self-esteem and assertiveness. I saw a definition of choice for people with disabilities that helped me think this through. Choice is uncoerced selection.

Tonight my mother directed me to Dave Hingsburger’s blog, Chewing the Fat. “Read his entry for today,” she wrote. “It is totally awesome!” (Honestly, she really did choose those words.)
So I did as she directed, and I enjoyed Dave’s entry, “Credit Where Credit is Due,”so much that I read it out-loud to John. He and I shared a laugh, and then agreed that we’d like [our son] to be so confident one day, too.

Just in case you needed a perspective adjustment.

Tammy said...

Dave: I'm sorry that some one out there had to make themselves feel better at your expense.

You won't loose readers. We love you for your words and ideas. Those are the most important things about any person.

BTW...I really LIKE the way you look! You favor the men on my mom's side of the family and I love them all very much!

Linda said...

I grew up in a family that was constantly criticizing others, and while I at least had the manners not to vocalize such things, I did inherit a tendency to focus on what I perceived as negative about other people. (Note the word "perceive" -- these types of judgments are relative and created.) And NObody was exempt from that.

Someone commented that this is an illness, and they're right. You get stuck in a loop of negativity, and it builds on itself. Trust me, the person saying these things isn't happy. She might experience a momentary sense of superiority at having put someone else down, but it comes at a price. You can't talk like that about others (even if just in your head) without residing in a place of negativity. The thing is, no matter how much mud people sling at you, you can get clean again. They're still going to be mired in the mud.

fiddlejig said...

Commenting on an old post at this point, but --

What you had to say troubled someone so much that he or she had to descend to ad hominem attack rather than wrestle with their own selves, their own ideas and actions.

I wonder what deep personal ugliness or terrible past behavior they were trying to avoid facing (or justify) by attacking you?

Consider all the people whom you respect and love, whose judgement and taste you trust, who respect and love you. So... do you distrust their judgement about you? And only about you?

And to quote yourself back to yourself, you're fat and bald and in a wheelchair all the time. But you aren't teased all the time. Why not?

I've been reading your blog from 2006 up to present over the last few days. I've been crying a lot. And I've been un-denting in some deep and important ways. Thank you.

Patricia JH.