Last weekend, a UK TV presenter was found dead in her flat. She was 40, beautiful and popular, but like anyone in the public eye she gleaned a large amount of online hate. She made mistakes and was on trial for physically assaulting her boyfriend in an argument on a Saturday night. The press hounded her but not nearly to the extent of those online. People made jokes, tagged her in offensive memes and tore her character apart based on one event which they knew nothing about.
The news of her passing upset me greatly. I’m not going to pretend that I have followed this woman’s life intensely, nor am I going to lie to you and say I even watched the shows she was a part of. I don’t need to be well versed in her life history to know that she was a person who was hurting and needed help. In this post I want to honour the woman whose face I saw in my mind’s eye sobbing, terrified and broken, and write a piece on kindness to the self.
I saw parallels between Caroline’s story and a family member of mine. They have their own struggles which they have been hiding, pressures which have been put on them by others and expectations that they feel no matter what they cannot meet. They’ve lashed out, had many physical altercations with friends and partners. They’ve made mistakes, big ones and have burned some bridges along their way.
I spent many sleepless nights and anxious mornings biting nails and considering; how can I save them?
I used to think this was allowing their behaviour. Rose tinting events, sugar coating the bad so I could take the sting out for them.
I tried suffocating them with love, calling and offering help at all times of night, treading on eggshells and making myself smaller so they could feel more powerful.
I stopped looking after myself to give them everything and this only created resentment, so I started to get angry at them.
I cussed them out and called them names until I entirely gave up on them, frustrated and scared and hurting.
I ignored what I needed at every turn, gave them everything I could give and none of it worked.
None of it saved them.
My sweethearts, you cannot save people but you can show kindness.
In making sure that your needs are met, your boundaries are felt and you are taking care of yourself I promise you you will be able to offer so much more to those in this world that need it the most. I’m certain that Caroline had people around her who loved her and supported her in the best way they could, but she was in a position where millions of people had access to a version of her that they saw on camera and at the press of a button could tell her exactly what they thought of her.
These are people who may have awful lives, who have experienced traumas or have unresolved issues with women or themselves and the only way they know how to communicate this is through bashing people online. They could be so disconnected from their own bodies that they don’t know how hurtful they are being, what those words feel like to receive. Maybe they do know exactly how painful it is but they are so miserable they don’t care.
What a horrific way to experience this life.
If these people were to focus on making themselves happy as a priority, looking after themselves or putting out a little positivity into this world then maybe the hatred and unkindness and negativity wouldn’t have been out there. Maybe Caroline wouldn’t have done what she did.
We don’t know and we never will.
For our future, take this minute to consider what being kind to yourself might look like. It might be indulgent or it might be doing something hard, it could even be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
For Caroline’s sake, be kind to yourself and to others.