Growing A Thicker Skin – How I Learned To Protect Myself On The Internet

Archer17 wrote on A Man Who Set Out To Cause Me Anguish: “I’d love to hear what the process is in growing a thicker skin. Because that is something that is hard for me.”

I have blogging about astrology for eleven years. At first I was extremely sensitive. I  was afraid of just about everything and I cried A LOT.  I can’t even say for sure that people were hurtful. I can only say I was hurt.

I responded by shutting down my blog. Back then I had the ability to disappear my posts (Saturn Neptune) which is exactly what I did at least ten times.  You’d come to my blog one day and it would be flush, vibrant, and thriving.  The next day, there would nothing there but my “gone fishin” sign.  Not too professional!

Each time I did this, I had no intention of returning. The fact was, I wasn’t a professional. I was a single mother with a sick child, writing for escape and release and various other sundries. I wrote to help people,  because as time passed there was less and less I could do for my daughter and I thought if I helped another person’s daughter, someone might help mine.

That’s fine but the fact is I was very fragile and profoundly (privately) stressed, in spite of how I came across on the Internet (Mars conjunct Mercury).  I was a bit like an accident that was going to happen and it took years for me to slowly toughen up. It was definitely a Saturn process in that I was not airlifted to the summit, but I can tell you how this occurred on the chance it helps you.

First, I started out afraid of a million things.  Over time, that became a half a million. In some cases the thing I was scared of happened and I survived it. In other cases, I gained confidence.

In the beginning, I really didn’t know if I was a lousy astrologer or what. I was not one of these cocky type people you see writing. I was humble and trying my best to help people, or to entertain them or whatever. Five years later, I had helped quite a few people and slowly come to understand I didn’t suck, regardless of the constant chorus telling me I *did* suck.  You can see how there is a big void there, HUGE, and it slowly filled itself in…the hard way. Shovelful by shovelful.

Other worst fears were realized. Someone altered pictures of my children and sent them to me…blood all over them.  This kind of thing is horrifying.  It’s meant to terrorize you and it’s effective, at least to an extent. I didn’t react to that specific thing as bad as I might have but it’s this kind of thing that makes a person just not want to put themselves out there on the internet.

I eventually got down to 200,000 fears and then 50,000 fears but the next thing that really helped was when, satori cracked this nut for me.  I was always whining to her, see?  Why are they so mean? I really wanted someone to save me. I wanted someone to defend me and could not understand why no one did.  Did they enjoy seeing me attacked?  But then one day, satori told me that maybe people stood by and watched because they thought I could defend myself. She said I was seen as having prowess, which was of course, news to me.

But this sounded right.  Realize the Internet has changed over the last decade.. It used to be, anything goes.  Trolls ruled.  So I realized I was acting like a child. I wanted someone to save me when in reality, I’m dangerous myself once you wake me from my delirium.  I decided at that time to do the unthinkable – fight back.

This worked well enough that when I moved to this domain name, I vowed to never remove a post. I have kept to this for the most part. I have had to remove some posts that my husband told me could get me targeted to be kidnapped and tortured, and various things of that nature, but I did retire my “gone fishing” sign in 2005.

As to why I did not quit, people would tell me that if I quit “they” would win, but this never resonated with me.  I’m a lot more independent than that.

I didn’t quit for the same reason I do everything thing I do. It’s because I feel I should. If I think I am supposed to blog, I will blog. If I think I’s supposed to write a book, I am going to write that book.  If I think I just let it sit on ice for 6 or 7 years after I finish, I will do that as well.

I chock this up to the same Mars Mercury conjunction you see evidence of on a daily basis. My conjunction is in the 9th house (religion, beliefs and spirituality) and I am driven by my beliefs.  Basically, I am operating in Jupiter realm of the higher mind and there is protection there.

Have you ever been through a process that toughened you up?

42 thoughts on “Growing A Thicker Skin – How I Learned To Protect Myself On The Internet”

  1. Wonderful post, Elsa. And well done for you and for the world that you carried on. Fear has been a steady companion all my life. 12th house Pluto/Uranus opposing 6th house Saturn/Chiron. And the only possible way to live relatively peacefully with that fear has been feeling it, acknowledging it and then carry on. Pretending that it isn’t there will just make it grow until it takes everything over. I at some stage made myself a promise, if there’s something I’m afraid of, I must do it. If there’s something I don’t want to do, I should first ask myself if the unwillingness comes out of fear, if, then I must do it. And if I really don’t want to do it, it’s pretty easy to leave it alone. My list of fears is wonderfully long, but basically, it’s all fear of being abandoned, being betrayed, not being liked for the person you are (Libra asc, Venus Libra), and then still having the urge to go out and act. My Scorpio Mars sextile Virgo Sun is thankfully really good at that. I wrote a long story about dealing with being gay, losing my voice due to HIV and finally really finding it again while going through HEP C treatment. Telling about it all unleashed all kinds of fears, and once it was done and having it all out in the open, I was so wonderfully at peace. Anyone who likes to read it can find it here

  2. Yes. I don’t know the astrology but you have my chart! lol

    Had a similar experience with a sister, and others, but primarily my whole life – one sister. She finally admitted after 20 years, after a 2 hour phone convo, that she was hard on me etc. because “I thought you could take it”. Lightbulb.

    With everything in my life before and since, I’ve been tested this way, from people or situations. For a long time I went through hell off and on. And then that convo with my sister happened and it changed me. I started owning my strength, which others saw apparently.

    I still get challenged or what have you. But I don’t want to waste another minute of my life around that (Venus in Libra I think). So I set a new intention this year. No more trolls. I’m just keeping clear and if puts itself in front of me, I will bite back to shut it down. But that rarely happens anymore.

    I’m glad you kept blogging Elsa and built this community and business. I’ve learned a lot from you if only in a psychological sense (I can’t remember astro details all the time.)


  3. I don’t bloody care about trolls. I ignore them – they do not exist in my universe because they are not allowed in. I have to approve any comments to my blog so there’s a triage. Even in forums, in discussing whatever, if someone is rude – I keep ignoring them. It’s just the best policy.

    Thick skin? Well, it comes from decades of rejection (of my work) so what I take for granted IS rejection, lol! Anything else is just a pleasant and unexpected surprise!

    But one of the best advice that I ever had came from a former boss. She said:
    – Not everybody has to like you.

    Meaning: one should not expect everybody to like us. That’s normal. And one should be ok with it. It’s like, common-sense, but this was the first time I’ve heard it said so plainly, so directly. She (I’m sure) said the exact same thing to every single person new to the job.

    So one should just ask himself/herself:
    – Do I wanna keep doing what I love Despite of other’s opinions?

    That’s the only real question that matters (imho).

  4. When my relationship got exposed in a tabloid. Hideous at the time but an extremely important learning experience.

    This is a very generous and helpful post, Elsa.

  5. Great post, Elsa – and I too am glad you came back, stuck around. For my own selfish reasons, of course.

    Also, I’ve been very impressed (and appreciative)on more than one occaision with how quickly and neatly you deal with trolls. 🙂

  6. “I was acting like a child. I wanted someone to save me when in reality, I’m dangerous myself, once you wake me from my delirium”

    Ouch. That hit a nerve for me-t.Pluto on my 1st House Cap Moon; this has been a big lesson for me.

    I have been through many processes that have toughened me up. The worst was having my best friend die when I was 21. She was an absolutely amazing person, she loved me, and I couldn’t appreciate it at the time as I was a small-minded idiot living life from my fear-based reality.

    Next month it will be 14 years since she died–a Saturn cycle. I think about her all the time, especially in the context of how I have become a better friend and a more confident friend since her death.

  7. The first thing that came to mind was personal. With my mars in Cancer , I have always been a sensitive one . There are plenty of us out there
    hiding behind our exterior masks and rising signs for protection. 😉
    I cannot imagine a day without reading your posts . I am so glad you chose to return , and find your extended personal forecasts, and solar return charts ever so helpful when rough patches come up . There are trolls everywhere , and while they can be cruel. I am armed with a secret weapon : Elsa Elsas astrology Heads-Up !

  8. Thank you Elsa. This post is another full-meal deal of expression continuing to serve through example.

    Yes, I have(and am) learning to grow a thicker skin and the Internet has been one of the greatest forums for that. Saturn rules my chart and as you wrote, I was not airlifted to the summit as I recover from long-term illness and rebuild a foundation and skin that suits me from the inside out.

    Time becomes a valuable ally in this skin-thickened process; making use of the moment and facing fears so I can give them new ‘names’ or rewrite the dialogue of the boogie man (aka trolls) my life gets better and better.

    Your Mercury-Mars is visible and evolutionary, Elsa.

  9. I’ve realized that the only way trolls can get to me (besides credible threats) is through touching on some wound or self-doubt that already existed. This is probably a good thing, being forced to find out where the wounds and weak spots lie. (Hmm, new Chicken Soup for the Soul book called Touched by Trolls?)

  10. Great post! I sometimes feel I could have thicker skin. I too have Mars/Mercury conjunct, but mine is in Pisces, so it’s not a whole lot of help there.

  11. Elsa,

    Glad to see you endured. I think you provide an invaluable service, both in your actual writing/words/advice as well as providing a watering hole. The most active, important place in nature is the collective watering hole.

    Carry on.

  12. YOU are amazing Elsa. You told me once I had prowess and I am now seeing that side of me come out…in a beautiful way 🙂 Go Elsa Go!

  13. Great one Elsa! 🙂

    I learned to protect myself sometime ago.
    I had a tough childhood and I didn’t have brothers/sisters to “share” the burden with and no family (much less friends) to help support me or save me! I have a lot of Pisces/Neptune influence so saving is something I definitely wanted, especially then. However nobody did come to my rescue.. Even my own father who was ‘there’, wasn’t! He had to work and I think he was also in a way teaching me to care for myself. I have my Sun, Ascendant and MC trine my Saturn/Pluto conjunction. So I fought for my belief that I will make it and I will be fine at the end of all this.
    I think in my case my Saturn/Pluto and Jupiter/Uranus are the energy I used most to get a tougher skin and a broader point of view. I told myself that what is happening is just temporary and I will make it out but that I had something to learn from this..
    I control how those events will affect me and I control the impact that my reactions will have on me. If I want a different impact then my reaction should go accordingly. I detached myself and protected myself in order to survive and I did. Now I don’t have to be so detached but I know what I need to do if I ever feel threaten like I was back then.

    I truly admire your ability to still write your thoughts/experiences after such threats directed your way Elsa. I find you very brave and an inspiration. I almost wish that I had a Mercury/Mars aspect but you have taught me how to value what you have so in retrospect I like my Mercury/Saturn-Pluto because with time, I will always get it!

  14. Great post! Really helpful to astrologers like myself new to the internet -not to give in and give up – at first, indifference can really hurt when you are trying to communicate – I now see that there are more robust-raw-responses that may come my way. I’ve got a stellium in Leo Rising, Sag Moon and Aries MC – that will have to do as protection- saying that I am 12th house Cancer Sun (don’t tell anyone). When the tough times came, I used my sag moon buoyancy (travelled mostly) and the 12th house respite in spirituality and metaphysics..still is my response, plus the always seductive pull of a water sun in 12th the possibility of ‘losing myself’ in a sea of others which comes from melting into a spiritual community.

    Having said that…I may need to borrow your ‘gone fishing’ sign from time to time.

  15. @ Julian Winter,

    “The most active,important place in nature is the collective watering hole.” Beautiful.

    I agree that this is one of them. Thank you for those words and that imagery.

  16. What an amazing post, Elsa. I’m so grateful to you for bring this issue out in the open. I’ve been blogging only half as long as you, but my experiences are very similar about all the fears and the “exposure.” (Our minds must be cousins. We even have the same mind chatter!)

    I’ve been fortunate that my negative experiences have been minimal, and I find, over time, that I’m “self-editing” less and less. My skin is getting thicker, too, but only via the slow-but-sure process you mention. (As a Virgo Sun with Neptune square Moon, I am a “sensitive,” and this adventure has definitely required me to put on my Gusty t-shirt–and maybe one of those lead aprons that protect you from x-rays, LOL!)

    Thanks for being a leader in every way, including by starting this conversation. I wonder if most people reading blogs have any idea what some of us go through to share our learning and beliefs. (I’m a 9th House Moon.)

    So glad you’re you,

  17. This post moves me deeply. I keep rereading it. Powerful combo of sharing your personal experience and offering it up as a touchstone and guiding voice for others who may struggle with this in various areas of their life.

    Thank you for writing this, Elsa.

    To your question; Sometimes it feels like I am constantly cycling through this process of coming to grips with insecurity, hurt feelings or feelings of injustice in some area of my life or another…And that requires that I at least have a background awareness and intention around how I choose to respond (or not) and manage what I do with it.
    The biggest breakthroughs I’ve had in this lifetime so far are twofold: 1) lightbulb moment recognition that my outlook, motivations, ideals,values, priorities, etc are *not* universal and that “other” means exactly that and can be quite alien/foreign; 2) Some of the most empowering, enlightening, educational experiences come from stepping outside of the pain/fear and “calling a spade a spade”–ie directly and authentically addressing the transgression and its impact in the moment or soon thereafter. No, the outcome isn’t always ‘happy’ but I’ve come to learn that it *does* lift a huge weight, and no matter what the fallout the world does not end and I can handle it. (and thicken my skin in the right places while preserving my integrity and ability to give/take empathy, compassion and understanding of “the other” when and where warranted).

    Yikes. This got long…I’m really glad you wrote this post, Elsa. I hope it helps a lot of people. I think it will. <3

  18. Another amazing post Elsa!!

    And truly inspiring for us other bloggers/writers who have not had your years of experience. I purposely avoid setting up too much feedback as in a forum like this. I know I do not have the energy or resilience for this kind of thing.I blog away as a labour of love and enjoy the fact that a few are reading my blog and that’s enough.

    Which is why I admire you even more for what you do and how you do it.

    I do see evidence of your prowess every day and also of your Mercury/Mars aspect … have seen you put a few people in their place very skillfully more than once. Ouch.(…it needed to be done)

    Its very interesting to know that your skill has been hard won. I love to hear that you cried. As a highly sensitive Cancerian I do that a LOT!!

    My biggest learning was moving to England and dealing with daily challenges as an outsider and with people’s self-protective edginess there (I am Canadian and we are so darned friendly). I learned over time that underneath we are all basically the same… In the meantime I was told many times I needed to develop a thicker skin.

    I think it did me good…learned the lessons C P Griffen outlins above. Stepped out of my own safe little world a bit.

    And thankfully discovered that what other people think of me is none of my business!!

  19. Thanks for posting your experiences Elsa.

    I have had a few pretty profound, pretty difficult experiences where I realized what I was made of. It was either do or die, life or death. And I chose to do and to live. I never could have imagined how strong my will to live and to be free was until it was challenged.

  20. Thank you for writing this, Elsa. I’ve read this post several times now and this is what jumps out at me:

    “I really wanted someone to save me. I wanted someone to defend me and could not understand why no one did. Did they enjoy seeing me attacked? But then one day, satori told me that maybe people stood by and watched because they thought I could defend myself. She said I was seen as having prowess, which was of course, news to me”.

    I’m not in a position where I am usually attacked (like your internet presence, open to the world), but when I am, I want back-up. I actually had a situation a couple of years ago where someone jumped all over me at a party. Loud, wouldn’t stop. I did push back and eventually got her to knock it off. Later, I asked my two friends why they didn’t “defend me” ? And they said (just like Satori said to you)–“we thought you were handling it really well. Everyone thought she was being an ass.” So, I told them that it hurt, it felt they didn’t have my back. They sincerely apologized, but were pretty puzzled still, thinking I was fine on my own. I guess I’m more convincing on the outside and the key is I haven’t been owning that. So I will take that and think it over. I’m grateful for this, Elsa.

  21. I’ve been through things that have toughened me and I’ve been through things that have broken me.

    “I wanted someone to save me when in reality, I’m dangerous myself once you wake me from my delirium. I decided at that time to do the unthinkable – fight back.”

    Hanging by a thread, I needed to read this TODAY. Thank you.

  22. I talk tough to bolster myself– 4th house Mercury Taurus square 7th house Pluto exact, but the Trolls would have shut me down instantly never to return. Bravo Elsa!

  23. Great post Elsa! You give me courage to continue on my journey, to stick my neck out and go where I need to. Thank you!

  24. I started getting bullied in kindergarten. This is a bad thing in many ways (for example, not learning until college that everyone you know won’t hate you by default), but I definitely learned NOT to be “sensitive.” If I had been “sensitive” I would have been a 6-year-old trying to figure out how to commit suicide, for crying out loud. I learned to never let them see you cry because then they get what they wanted out of you, and fuck them, they don’t get what they want.

    Nowadays, I don’t try to shoot for having everyone like me. Some people just plain ARE NOT GOING TO, I rub them the wrong way just by existing. And you know what? That’s life. As long as those people aren’t trying to kill or physically attack me and just stick to saying mean shit, then that’s doing pretty darned good for me.

    Also, I don’t plaster my e-mail address in places that are easy to find so any random stranger can e-mail me to tell me how ugly I am. If you want to do that, you’ll have to work to find it. And you don’t HAVE to have or read comments on your blog if you’re a shit magnet. Fuck them.

  25. What a wonderful and personal post. As a Pisces, I can never stand hostility online (or in real life, I suppose). I leave several of my websites closed to comments because I hate to face them. Perhaps its time that I toughened up too.

  26. This is so inspirational, Elsa.

    I’ve been around for about five years, I think, and to see how hard you’ve worked to foster the growth of your blog is just so…wow. Especially knowing how long and hard the process has been for you. Amazing.

    I HAVE thick skin in my own right, but I’m equally as sensitive. I guess you could say I have thick, transluscent skin. I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I’ll kick your ass too 🙂 lol

  27. thank you for sharing, and i’m very glad you stuck it out, i think you kind of saved my life 😎 <3 aquarius moon apparently finds maternal wisdom through the internet, lol!

  28. Thanks for sharing your deepest concerns. This takes courage to express this adventurous journey of Life. Exposing truth sometimes hurts. And, we must jump over the hurdles to not take everything personal. This is a soul journey without psychological programming human emotions. As you quoted: “I am operating in Jupiter realm of the higher mind and there is protection there.” This is so True. Many outer mirrored negativity taking place to see how well we depend on this higher mind. This negative energy is to allow us to observe the fear, people cling to for security. Life isn’t about securities. It’s about seeing-understand with compassion and loving unconditional through all the disorder, dis-easements that have taking over this Divine Higher Mind. To listen without judgments, to find peace, balance with all outer communications without attachments. Peace be with you =)

  29. Love this post! Needed to hear it and let it sink in. People often tell me that I am too sensitive…that I need to develop Rhino-skin. I take this to mean that the slings and arrows that people throw at me (and they often do) should be taken with a grain of salt. When I try this, I get into a problem with boundaries. Just how far is too far? When should I fight back, as you decided to? So it’s either doormat or warrior for me. Being “nice” gets me walked on, and being a warrior gets me labeled as “too sensitive”. This happens a lot at work, where people pretend to be constructive, when they are really looking to tear you down. I call em on it. They don’t like it of course. But the truth hurts. My tactic is to talk calmly about it but with empathy. Perhaps I should just “hit the roof” instead, as I have noticed that overreactions usually catch people off guard and they back off. Perhaps most of these people aren’t mature enough to have an honest conversation with an equal? IDK…but I am so weary of the attacks (And I just love the “blame the victim” arguments. I have analyzed myself to death and worked hard to be a “real person”, not a fake). I am in no way able to detach myself from everyone as Buddha was, so some punches do land. I could choose the “Jim Halpert” of The Office approach, where nothing ever bothers him and everything is a joke. But that seems somewhat immature. Or I could choose to follow my inner compass, but then I would have to confront each barb when I feel it piercing my baby Rhino flesh. It’s a conundrum! Thoughts? I am a Pisces-3-Goat. What the French call “un grand sensible.”

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