Donna Smaldone
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Sunday / January 22 / 2012

In receipt of bonafide hate mail

Twenty simple seconds can wound someone beyond repair. As quickly and powerfully as you can communicate your undying love and admiration for another, you can cripple someone with harsh, hateful words.

I found myself on the receiving end of such vicious cruelty not long ago.

Sitting at my office desk, I paused to read a Facebook email from someone I hadn’t heard from in 23 years. Someone I went to high school with, but hadn’t known very well. Her email began with the question of whether or not I ever think of Tina and Dan and how their children would look.

“Of course I do,” I thought to myself. I read on with a soft smile, preparing for this girl to reminisce with me about the good times we shared as classmates with Tina and Dan.

I could not have been more mistaken. As I continued to read, my mouth opened and I began to tremble, tears falling swiftly down my face. My body froze in horror.

I realized I was holding my breath.


I do have a happy life. But… that’s a good thing.


Wow. Was this really happening? (remember to breathe)

I’ve made such progress being back home in New York, processing through the many aspects of the car accident. It’s been a very healthy, heartfelt process. In that process, I’ve opened my heart and emotions in new ways — which is really good — but as I had just discovered, also makes me a lot more vulnerable.

This was a bonafide piece of hate mail. A true, I-hope-you-die-and-burn-in-hell kinda thing. Very personal. Very ugly.

Venomous.

Parts of me knew I should be able to brush this off with, “she had no right to say those things and she’s a horrible person for saying them“. And I do believe those things. But what she said affected me nonetheless. I physically shook when I read it.

I pressed into the family that loves me beyond measure. Want to know what they said?…

  • Remember, you have many friends and family, who love you and even though it was a bad body blow to you, she must have mega hate and bitterness problems.
  • This girl is the one in a million that has no class or heart. I know you graduated together, but please remember all the many other Facebook friends you have from home, who don’t have this bitterness.
  • Too many people know the real heart you have and the pain you live with every day — so don’t let this bitter woman get to you.
  • Copious modifications of, “I love you!” (always with the exclamation point — even the ones that were texted.)

Less than twenty simple seconds later, I was wrapped in love.

One thing she said that is correct: I am happier than she. Not just because of the way she’s chosen to live her life in lonely bitterness, but rather, my son tells me, “…because of how radiant your love is of life and all things good.” My prayer is that one day she will choose to find such happiness for herself.

57 responses to “In receipt of bonafide hate mail”

  1. Karen Schanck says:

    Donna,
    So sorry that you were the recipient of such a harsh, hard-hearted e-mail. Your Maker loves, loves, loves you and that’s the truth.
    Grace & peace,
    Karen Schanck

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you, Karen. I know He does. And I know he loves this girl’s hardened, hurting heart, too.

      Love,
      Donna

  2. Mary Backus says:

    All that I can say is how incredible sorry I am! I can’t imagine what would make a person be so hurtful other than she herself must be so unhappy. We all have events in our past we wish would change. Those mistakes do not define us. How we live our lives after the mistake or accident..that defines us. You have lived your life with grace and honor. It is unfortunate one of classmates has not.
    One thing she has right is that someday you will meet your maker. He already knows your heart. You will not answer to him for that accident. He knows by the life you have lead since that terrible day, who you are and where your heart is. I worry more for the writer because I think she will have to answer to God for her bitterness and anger.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you, Mary. It is indeed hard to imagine what would make someone SO unhappy that they would lash out to someone they haven’t seen or spoken to in decades. My prayer is for the state of her heart.

      Love,
      Donna

  3. Beth Tooker says:

    You are a BEAUTIFUL person, Donna, and have chosen to live your life in contribution. My heart aches for you as you had to process such a horrific email. Mary and Karen are absolutely correct…Your Maker is smiling down on you and how you represent Him. He knows your heart and has felt all of your pain right along with you. What a tragic life that woman must be living to have such bitterness. Raise your head high and know that you are walking in greatness….just as your Maker created you for! Blessings to you and your family, Donna!

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      You are so sweet, Beth. Thank you. Each one of us has the opportunity to choose and I’m glad it’s evident I have chosen to “live my life in contribution” — as have you. Blessings to you, too.

      Love,
      Donna

  4. Diana says:

    How absolutely sad. Happy people don’t behave that way. I feel sorry for her.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      You’re right, Di. Once you get past the viciousness of her message, you realize what a sad, lonely person lies beneath. I feel for her, too.

      Love,
      Donna

  5. Julie says:

    I love you beyond measure… and so does our Lord…. I hope that this person can someday feel the same love…. because it is obvious that she does not.

    The day of the accident (accident!!!!) was one of the worst days of my life… ever… in fact… it is right up there in the top 2 or 3. But what I treasure more than anything is that you survived and have flourished and have continued to love the world around you (more and more) in spite of what you have been through… not just the physical stuff… but the emotional stuff… and the hate mail… I know it isn’t the first… because I remember when you got it way back when….

    You are precious!!!

    Love, Julie

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      “I have a cold!” Remember when my Mom would say that to explain her tears during Hallmark commercials? Yes, well after reading your comment, I’m here to tell you, “I have a cold!” (smile)

      You warm my heart, Julie. You’ve been through so much of this right by my side and your love, friendship, and support mean the world to me. You’re right, this isn’t the first piece of hate mail I’ve received. It’s so disheartening to think of what lies behind the “why” someone would share such hate in writing. Indeed it goes to the depths of unhappiness in their own lives. How I hope and pray that’s not always the case for them.

      You are precious, too!

      Love,
      Donna

      • Julie says:

        Yes… I remember when your Mom would say “I have a cold!” Oh how I love her so much too!!! What a blessing your entire family is to the world around them!!
        Love, Julie

  6. Jeanne says:

    If i met that girl in an alley she’d be in for trouble. No one talks to my beautiful roomie that way! She needs some serious therapy and has no right to take her anger, bitterness and long rooted jealousy out on you. Please immediately press the delete button on that email! love you mucha chica!

  7. Caspar Green says:

    Donna,
    Yes, I’ve had hate mail (would you believe pastors get hate mail?) and yes, it sucks – big time.
    I’ve found that the Buddhists have the best way of dealing with that sort of thing: realize that the anger is not yours but theirs and don’t pick it up. That doesn’t make it hurt any less, of course, but at least you don’t end up carrying it around.
    Shalom to you,
    Caspar

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with hate mail, too, Caspar. Buddhists are very wise in how they deal with these sorts of things. All picking it up will do is propagate it — and we don’t want that.

      Love,
      Donna

  8. CarolAvigdor says:

    Donna, we all have something in the past that haunts us &, some of us are lucky enough to have those who support us in those haunting moments. The writer of that message may not have had enough support or ignored it. One must move on (that does not mean forgetting) and make life a better place for ones self & those around them- Evolution!!. YOU have done that so well- for so many & possibly that moment in time has made you who you are today. Keep on moving forward. Hugs & blessings to you and to the writer of the message.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you so much, Carol. It’s evident that much is missing in this person’s life and my prayer is that won’t always be the case.

      Love,
      Donna

  9. Shea Williams says:

    Donna,

    I think you are an amazing person!!!!!!

    Shea

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      awww, thank you, Shea. Your comment made me smile out loud. I think you’re pretty exceptional yourself!

      Love,
      Donna

  10. De Hastings says:

    Oh dear wonderful loving glorious Donna,
    The intelligent, loving women who’ve commented here before me are the overwhelming majority that know the truth of you & your heart & love & support you; always have, always will! My feelings too, have been echoed by them, regarding you AND the unnamed writer w/ hatred spewing from her fingertips as she typed. I am so sorry, that with everything you’ve been through, you were hurt by this bitterness. Weaker people would crumble, YOU turned it into a resource for your writing! .
    “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

    That said; (& this is where a little bit of the redneck in me comes out) you KNOW every one of your supporters from HL would just love to know who this person is…
    …and as a representative of that group, I’d gladly volunteer to open the first can of ‘whoop-ass’…. ;o)

    ♥ ~De

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      haha, De… you crack me up and bring such warmth and laughter to my soul! I relish our lifelong friendship and am thankful you have my back — hope you know I have yours, too. <3

      And thanks for the Nietzsche quote. One of my faves.

      Love,
      Donna

  11. Walter Combs says:

    If you should think of that e-mail, one thing to think to respond: “There but for God’s grace go you, my friend.” Glad all those you love are there to hold you up, and most of us out here are, too.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you, Walter. It’s true no one of us is any better than another. We are all unique creatures designed by God to be happy and fulfilled. That is my prayer for this person.

      Love,
      Donna

  12. michelle says:

    Donna,
    How brave and forgiving you are! Not many people would make public a letter showing someone else’s negative, bitter feelings written about them. As everyone before me has said – you are living a life of love and goodness. Picking up someone else’s hate, bitterness, and burden and carrying it – isn’t worth it! Being able to forgive and move on is a gift. I have carried a burden before and know that it is hard to let it go and forgive, but realize it hurts the person holding on to it more than the other person. Keep on being a loving, forgiving, hopeful, and good person!

    Michelle

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you, Michelle. I love that word, “hopeful” — it holds such promise. I believe that life is a series of responses. Life is going to bring both good and bad — it’s what we choose to do with it that shapes and molds our lives.

      Love,
      Donna

  13. Kathleen Brady says:

    Donna,

    First of all, good morning. I have signed up on your blog and peruse it from time to time. I read your stories and I sit and cry sometimes, or I reflect on my life and wonder if I have evolved through my situations. I consider you a very positive person. I can’t imagine some of your feelings you have had to endure both emotional and physical thru your years and truly admire the person you are with the few times we have bumped into each other. Thank you for this blog and sharing these life stories with us. I need to find that evolution you have found and you don’t realize this but you have helped me. I hope this person who is so angry at his or her loss or lack of happiness, finds true comfort. People lash out, that’s what makes us human. But its also human to find peace and happiness. You are wonderful and are helping people that you don’t even realize, ME , Thank you and keep on writing. You are great at what you do. Sincerely, Kathleen Brady

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Good morning, Kathleen. Wow… thank you so much for reading — and for sharing. I am truly delighted and honored my blog has been a resource in your own evolution. Everything you just shared was my hope when I started this blog.

      Your “You Evolution™” isn’t something to be achieved or completed but rather, is truly an evolution, an awareness, ever changing and evolving as you build and nurture the uniqueness that is wholly Kathleen Brady. Welcome to The You Evolution™!

      Love,
      Donna

  14. Kelli Barron says:

    Donna, keep smiling despite the receipt of this terrible email. This was an effort to bring you down and cause you pain; don’t let it. You are an extraordinary person who brings happiness to all those around you – Focus on THAT! Kelli

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Indeed I will focus on that, Kelli. Thank you. Even though her venomous words were targeted at me, I recognize the veiled hurt she wrestles with inside her own life. My prayer is that one day she will find happiness and fulfillment.

      Love,
      Donna

  15. Donna –
    Horrifically tragic things happen to people everyday. One happened to you and your friends. You are still here and using the experience to help others beyond measure. They need you and our world is a better place because you share your experiences and your voice. This was a test and you made it through.
    Cheers,
    Adrienne

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thanks, Adrienne. The word “test” is an interesting one. While I’m not certain I would call this a test, I am certain it tested me! But did I pass or am I passing? …that’s what gets me thinking.

      The more we share and communicate with one another, the more we can continue to learn from one another and nurture our unique evolutions. Same holds true for the person who wrote that email to me.

      Thank you for reading — and sharing!

      Love,
      Donna

  16. Sue Mills says:

    Donna, I feel so bad for you. You have so much love n your being, it’s so hard to believe that someone in this world could hate you. Keep the love flowing like you always do.

    Donna, I feel so bad for you, that someone in this world could say such a horrible thing to you like that.You are such a caring and loving person. Peace and Love Always. Sue Mills

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Awwww, thank you so much, Sue. You warm my heart in so many wonderful ways. I am blessed to have you in my life. Your hugs and smiles help make this world go round and I for one, am a big fan.

      Love,
      Donna

  17. Kerry says:

    Hi Donna, Everyone’s said it so well already, but wanted to add my thoughts. I’m sorry that you’ve been through such an awful tragedy. (What would we all say to our 16-year-old selves? I can hardly recognize the insecure girl I was who made some pretty terrible-awful choices, although I understand and sympathize with her still.) I think you’re even more remarkable for radiating such light in the world around you after coming through such darkness. Sympathies to the hater who is stuck in that black place. Thanks for sharing the good and the bad!

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Your words have such beauty and depth for me, Kerry. Thank you for sharing. I love how you observed your younger self, “…though I understand and sympathize with her still.” Our 16-year-old selves weren’t bad, they were just far less experienced than our current selves.

      I, too feel for the writer of those words as I know she’s spewing from a dark, unhappy place — one I pray she’s not stuck in forever.

      Love,
      Donna

  18. Ron Kuhlman says:

    I am at a loss to understand the depth of any person’s hate such as this. I understand deep personal loss but somehow with devine help life goes on and fond memories overtake the pain and we find hope, love and the ability to overcome the bitterness. Love conquers all.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      You’re at a loss, Ron, because you are SO far from thoughts such as these. It’s one of the things I love about you!

      As we’ve seen, it is a choice to find hope, love, and the ability to overcome bitterness. Perhaps one day my classmate can choose differently. I hope she does.

      Love,
      Donna

  19. Patti Polunci says:

    Dear Donna,
    I am so sorry that you were the recipient of such a hurtful and viscious email. It is clear from the tone and contents written, that the person who wrote to you has not had the warm, positive and loving support in her life that you have had. How unfortunate that she should feel the need to lash out at you.
    As hurtful as it was….is…. I am happy for you and for your family that you have been able to deal with the past and move forward to live a happy and rewarding life. Life offers us each many challenges. You are doing a wonderful job meeting yours.
    Love,
    Patti

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      It means a lot to me that you would take the time to reach out with such loving affirmation, Mrs. Polunci. Thank you! At the surface, this ordeal left me shook up and hurt. At its depths, though, my heart breaks for the pain in which the writer of those words is living. I am so blessed to be able to choose happiness — and I know it’s in part because of the loving support that has surrounded me. I pray one day she’ll be able to experience likewise.

      Love,
      Donna

  20. Julie says:

    Donna, I just want to comment again and say Thanks for talking about this… because it is helping me heal too…. and I know I am not the only one.

    I love you, precious friend!!

    Julie

  21. Carrie says:

    I am so sorry someone felt like they had to put those negative thoughts into words towards you.
    Shake it off my friend. Don’t let it steal one more second of your joy. xxoo

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      I appreciate your love and support, Carrie. Thank you. It did steal my joy momentarily, I think mostly because of its shock value. Now, though, I feel more concern about how it’s stolen this person’s joy for nearly a quarter of a century. Such a sad place to reside.

      Love,
      Donna

  22. Chris Rayder says:

    Dear Donna

    First I wanted to say I am truly sorry – venom leaves a terrible sting. The tongue is sharper than any two edged sword. Please hold on to the people who know you, love you and appreciate you for your many talents and true beauty. One thing I learned in life is ‘hurting people hurt.’ I think one has to be a deeply troubled person to write with such poison. I don’t think a day goes bye that anyone connected to the accident has forgotten, and I know you carry it more than anyone. Donna, I have known you most of my life and admire how you have overcome that tragic event to achieve great things. I think the ‘writers’ hatred is disgusting, but I pity her. I can’t imagine how dark her world must be. In my own search to forgive, remember our Savior Jesus Christ, who being perfect was still rejected by the world – a world He died to save and forgive.

    Love ya Donna

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Sweet Chris, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. “Hurting people hurt” — such truth in that. As I was able to move past the attack, I too, felt pity for her. It’s clear she wasn’t surrounded by the same type of love and support that you and I were growing up, and that pains my heart. There is still so much hope for her, as there is for all of us and I hope one day she allows it in. Thank you so much for reading, Chris — and for reaching out. I love you, too.

      Love,
      Donna

  23. Annie says:

    Just remember that we adore you and just because she wrote it, that doesn’t make it true. People like that just want to blame other people for their problems.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      You’re right, Annie. The venom comes from a deep place of hurt and desire to blame. Thank you for reaching out. I adore you, too!

      Love,
      Donna

  24. David Covey says:

    Dearest Donna…. Please, please try to expunge from your mind [the very one you have made so beautiful] all of the hateful words in that e-mail. Your many, many loving friends have said it all. Bless them, for they KNOW what they do, what they say and how they feel…. and why!

    You’re an easy target for the bitter. They might even think that you’re just “too happy!” Especially now with your blogs, you’re hanging right out there. You so remind them of the things they don’t have [and never will if they don’t get rational and driven to be studious about the true reasons and cures for their venomous infections!] Even if this person didn’t have the facts all wrong, this attack is clearly and completely the responsibility of the writer. It stops right there, period. Your value set is “Old and Tried” [I like the former logo of the Glens Falls Insurance Co.], and as such, has proven its validity over centuries and through volumes of refinements. The writer’s value set, whatever it is, needs a complete overhaul if happiness and self-love is to be the result.

    Ah, and there is more. Even drawing from my limited experience, I can tell you that the Spin Doctors will always be out there. Some are fearful of being discovered and some are blatantly obtuse. Some are also funny and/or valid. Just be wary and be ready. As you have pointed out, this is not the first time you have received “hate mail”. I, then, am reminding you that it probably won’t be the last, either. Whether it be “hate mail” or crushing criticism, it likely will come again. Life’s extremes know no bounds. Many of us tend to lose touch with that. “Normal” is only what we’re used to. Understanding the extremes can be challenging as well as mind-expanding. So be armed with a mindset to approach all troubling input academically while still looking within yourself to be sure you haven’t drifted off to a pink or a dark cloud somewhere [assuredly, which you have NOT].

    For the cloud thing, I like the phrase, “Check-Mate” [Check – ok; Ma – in mythology, primeval land, absolute right to {my stretch refers to the exclusive territory which is home to our thoughts}; and Te – Spanish or Latin for “You” {as in, Te amo, literally, “You I love”} speaking, in this case, to one’s self]. “Check Mate”. It’s easy to remember and has a much more positive spin than “self-doubt”, and is far less sterile or clinical than “self analysis”. It’s a double check to be certain we haven’t gotten off the track, into either an ivory tower or a mental dungeon. It’s a stabilizer for peace of mind, self-love, reassurance …. [add as many as you like]. It’s an aggressive and effective antidote for the words & thoughts of the bitter. It can keep us out of the sucking vortex of emotion! Yessss!

    You’re free, Dearest Donna! You’ve already exponentially done your penance, which God knows, was purely self-imposed. You’re free! Don’t back up! Don’t let someone else take the wheel ever again! [Yes, that was intentional!]

    Love you!
    David

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Such beautiful sentiment, David. Thank you. So well-written and well-thought-out. You’re a gem! I love you, too. Thank you for taking the time to share this with all of us.

      Love,
      Donna

  25. Jen Quirk says:

    What a moving blog post! I’ve been wanting to take you out to lunch to pick your brain. Inherently, I knew I would walk away from our time together with something that would enrich my life and business. After finding and reading this blog, I want to do lunch now! You’re the real deal lady and I look forward to getting to know you. Thank you for sharing yourself with us!!!!

  26. Sara Mannix says:

    Donna, when I read this I just wanted to hug you. Hate is such a powerful thing and in this case also ignorant… but love is even more powerful. May the love that surrounds fill you with joy. I’ve sent you virtual hugs since I first read this and wanted to stop by but now I’m off on an airplane to a conference, so that’s not going to happen this week. Love and hugs, Sara

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      It is interesting how hate can be so powerful and ignorant — but you’re right, love is even more powerful. I’ve gotten those virtual hugs, thank you, Sara! And I’m going to hold you to the real ones once you return. Safe travels, my friend.

      Love,
      Donna

  27. Jodie Plude says:

    Donna,
    So sorry for the harsh words that person said to you. Tina and Dan would be very proud of the wonderful woman you have become! Keep on living and loving the way you do!

    Love,
    Jodie

  28. Donna Smaldone says:

    awwww, thank you, Jodie. You, too!

    Love,
    Donna

  29. Mark Petrie says:

    Well, I can’t believe that someone would be so unhappy with themselves that they would try to pass that anger off on you…and ultimately us ! I too went to school with you, Dan and Tina. I loved you all! Was it sad? Yes! Devastating? Of course! Was it an accident? Absolutely…..no one person could have predicted or stopped the horror. Donna, I know that you live with this everyday….the physical and emotional scars are there! Please don’t let the comments of one misguided, miserable person stop you from giving back in all the ways that you do! Tina and Dan were amazing people and the world did lose two shining stars but your star has brighten to carry on with whatever message that we were supposed to, for whatever reason, take away from this tragedy. I know that I remember that day and it formed me in some small way to be a better person…..for Dan and Tina, Donna and Denise and all that were directly touched by the accident….but in reality it was not Donna’s accident….it was an accident….for all of us to bear. I am grateful that you had the courage to post this message Donna….a lesser person would have hid it in fear! I am sorry that you had to deal with this at all but together with us and your family the good will prevail! I am sure of that!

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you, Mark. I found your comment so interesting, “…and ultimately us!” — as I know it did affect all of us. Dan and Tina were indeed amazing individuals, shining stars as you so aptly stated. Allowing good to prevail is so important in the survival for all us of still here — and I know you’ve experienced the reality of that more times than most people your age.

      Your words warm my heart, Mark. Thank you for sharing.

      Love,
      Donna

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