When Friendships Go Wrong

 

By slurpiesandstraws ☮ from Flickr.com

By slurpiesandstraws ☮
                              from Flickr.com

I wrote this awhile ago and then deleted it. I had no interest in continuing living in the past. All that has changed though. There have been certain things come to light that upsets me. One thing in particular is a blog written recently. I’ll get to that in a bit though.

First, I think I should give you some background on the past and a friendship that went terribly wrong.:

Bullying on the Internet isn’t just for Teenagers

It’s sad but true. Kids may have a excuses (as weak as they are), but adults don’t. They do it just to be mean. People believe there’s a certain anonymity that is involved. (“What does it matter that I’m being mean? This person doesn’t know me from John Doe. Good thing that’s what my screen name is, lol.”)

Bullies as Trolls

Since starting my blog, I have been lucky to have only one case of trolling happen. It was actually kind of funny, and I had anticipated it. With my previous experience (I’ll get to that in a minute), I wouldn’t say I was hardened against it, but I was prepared at least. Turns out, the Troll didn’t even read the post she commented was on, AND I held a celebration for having “made it” in the blogging world.

I’ve gotten lucky in my blogging so far. Others haven’t. One of my favorite “Mommy” bloggers had a bad case of trolling on her site not too long ago (check the comments, see the trolls, and you’ll even see me calling them out). It changed her thoughts on bullying on the internet enough that she joined with others in “The Mom Pledge.”

There are a few different forms of bullying on the internet. Here you can find an explanation of each of these types of “cyber bullying”: flaming, belittling, trolling, imping, harassment, stalking, outing, and phishing. As writers, we all know the truth. No matter what that rhyme says and no matter its good intentions, it’s wrong.

Words hurt.

And now I’m going to share with you my own personal experience with online bullying.

A few years ago, I had a friend. She was like a sister to me. We talked every week on the phone (we lived far away from each other. Several states away for a time). We shared our thoughts and our dreams. She was one of the first people I told when I became pregnant with my daughter. I would tell her all my grievances with my new husband, knowing that I could trust her.*

One day while talking on the phone, she suggested an online mother’s group for me to join. I trusted her, so I joined and started talking with these other women. Already, signs were bad.

These women did not accept new people into the group easily. I tried to make light of my ignorance of certain things since I was a “noob” to the group, but several of the women openly degraded me for that one reason alone. One woman even stated she hated new people in the group. My friend said to give it time and they would accept me, so I stuck with it.

And then I found out I was pregnant with Little Man. I announced it in the group. I received a few congratulations before my friend took all the negative things I had told her about my marriage and aired it in this very public forum of women who already didn’t like me because I was new. At first, it was only a few who insulted me. Then, when I confronted my friend about what she did, shit hit the screen.

I was called a bad mother.

I was told I wasn’t fit to live.

I was told I should just kill myself and save the world from having to deal with me.

I was told I should have an abortion.

All because I wouldn’t take their advice and divorce my husband. None of this wouldn’t have happened if this friend hadn’t betrayed my trust.

Somehow, through all of it, I became the bad guy. I ended up apologizing to my friend because this woman has a way about her that makes people want to do everything they can to please her. The kicker? I got no real apology back. The most she said was she probably shouldn’t have done that. There was no, “I’m sorry,” to it. Just an, “Oops. My bad.”

Months go by and I was still in the group. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I wasn’t. You see, this person is the type that you want to follow her around just so you can say, “Yeah! I’ve breathed within 5 feet of her!” Her charisma is astounding. I was on the outs with her, and even with what she
did to me, I wanted back in.

When my son was born, I posted in the group. A couple of new members who weren’t around months before congratulated me. And then someone said something downright hateful. This case of trolling worked on me. I immediately emailed my friend and told her she needed to make sure her other friends didn’t say word one to me.

It’s amazing how trolling works. I could have handled myself better, but I was not in a good place. I had some severe postpartum depression and I had never fully recovered from the postpartum depression from when my daughter was born. Pile all of that on top of everything I had felt in the crazy hormonal months of pregnancy where I was outed and belittled and it’s
easy to see where I wasn’t in my right mind.

The ramifications of that trolling led to a lot of problems in my life.

I broke.

I cried.

I had a conversation with Stephen King on my bathroom floor while snakes slithered around us.**

I believed every word those people told me.

I must be a horrible mother.

I really should stop living. Little Man wasn’t even walking when I attempted suicide. These women were obviously right and the world would be a better place with out me. My kids would be better without me. I spent several days in the psychiatric wing of the hospital doing my best to get past the things those horrible women said to me.

And something happened. I got pissed.

Who were these women to tell me I’m a horrible mother? They know nothing of my life but what SOMEONE ELSE told them. They were looking for someone to hate and I just happen to be the person they dumped it on. I could either blindly follow a black hole*** – the same one all the detritus circled – or turn away before I was lost completely.

So I turned away.

But bullying doesn’t just go away. You don’t just get over it. It sticks with you through all things. I have scars from those people. Invisible ones that are deep.

I no longer entrust ANYONE with personal stuff, including the little arguments my husband and I get into. Every marriage has them. It’s how you get through them that matters, but I will never give details again. Even to my
actual sister. Even to a friend who did stick by me with all that was happening. Even to a therapist.

Every year during the month of March (when I found out I was pregnant with Little Man and my friend fed me to the wolves) I will be anxious. Every year, my son’s birthday will be tainted by the pain of betrayal. I’d like to say the only thing I can do is move on and allow time to distance me from the pain.

My former friend won’t allow that though. Just recently, she mentioned me and lied about what I said. I thought she had moved on like me, but the truth is in written word. The comments were a reminder of the Trolls from the forum.

I now find myself wondering what she’s told people about me. I’m almost certain she’s told people I’m a troll in the writing community. I’ll tell you right now that’s impossible. The writing community means way too much to me. You guys saved my life. Literally. I love everything to do with the writing community and would NEVER do anything to demean such a wonderful group of people.

Anyways, if you’ve been bullied, you know. It was made worse by my hormones, but even if I hadn’t been pregnant or just had a baby, I wouldn’t have deserved that. No one does. Bullying is a huge issue, especially on the internet where people think they can hide behind anonymity and get away with anything.

I tell you my story because I want you to understand it and I hope you never have to experience it yourselves. Speak out against it. If you see it happening to someone you know, offer them a kind word and a shoulder. Contact whomever you need to contact to get that bully off the internet or at least off the other person’s back. Step up and don’t allow bullying to continue. Go to http://cyber-bullying-prevention.com/ to learn more on how to help prevent bullying.

Words hurt, but they can also be cathartic.

* I also told her all the good things in my marriage, but she didn’t share with the group. There was no abuse going on in my marriage. It was all normal early marriage stuff that got used against me.

** I really did. It was the middle of the night, I was exhausted from my motherly duties, I had been crying from stress and depression, and either dreamed or hallucinated it.

*** From a distance, a black hole looks like a bright star.

[UPDATE: The woman who I refer to as the black hole got a hold of me and asked me to remove this post since it shows her in a bad light. After much consideration, I have decided to deny her request.]

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About 

Katie Doyle is an avid reader, writer of Young Adult fiction, a mom to two tornadoes that resemble an eight and five year old, and pet to a tuxedo cat named Oz and a German Shepherd/Boxer rescue named Charlie. If she's not reading, writing, or getting Oz out of a tree, she's staring out the window daydreaming about magic and mythical creatures.

17 Thoughts on “When Friendships Go Wrong

  1. Whoa, Kathleen. I am so sorry you had to go through that. I’ve not experienced cyber bullying, but I was bullied as a kid… and at 32 years old now, I can affirm that those scars do stick around. At the same time it’s these same experiences that have led me to be an advocate for other people who are hurting, who are deemed “different,” and who are cast into the margins of life; I’m an advocate for love… thanks to individuals who tried to bring me down. :)

    All that to say, you’re an advocate now… another bright star in a (sometimes) dark and mean world. It sucks that you had to suffer horrid ridicule and betrayal because. you’re right, no one deserves that, and though you have scars, you also now have the armor to stand up and fight for others.

    I commend you on your bravery in sharing your story and honor your declaration to fight for and protect others who are experiencing the same thing.

  2. This kind of stuff really makes me angry. It’s okay to disagree, but there are lines that can clearly be crossed. One thing I do to keep perspective (and this trolling, etc. stuff only gets worse when you have something published that others can ‘review’ btw), is to remind myself that some people aren’t well. They are mentally ill and the Internet is simply a place they can hang out. Unfortunately, unlike real life, it’s much harder to just ‘walk away’ online.

    I also try to remember that my blog posts, etc. are just a small portion of who I am and what I think. Anyone who chooses to judge me on these snippets of expression is missing out on the whole person. They can’t possibly understand who I am or what I’m really about–mostly because I don’t want them to. I want to make friends online, enjoy some collegial company, and share what little insight and perspective I have with others. But I’m not blogging to just my best friends and family. I realize it’s a public medium, so I only share things I think will be useful or encouraging. If people twist that or get their feathers ruffled, I’m sorry, and please open a civilized dialogue with me about what bothers you, or simply go spend your time elsewhere.

    Hang in there, Kathleen, and don’t let strangers change who you are and lessen your enjoyment of what we do. :)

  3. Michael Offutt on May 6, 2013 at 11:26 am said:

    I’ve been bullied extensively in my life. I understand exactly where you are coming from and have only recently started to fight back against it. It’s easy to get bullied when you are gay in this nation (which I am). You have my sympathies. Unfortunately, I think bullying will always be around. The only effective way to deal with these people is to fight back and stand up for yourself. Maybe someday, anonymous trolling will be outlawed and people just logging onto forums or support groups will be held accountable for the flaming that they do.

  4. Amy McBay on May 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm said:

    You are such an amazing person, Kathleen! Some people feel the need to bully others to make themselves feel more important, to make them feel as if they are better, but they’re not. They are worse, and the only way to show them up is to keep your head high and keep smiling, even if it hurts.

    I have been bullied all my life, and the quickest thing I learned is a bully loves to see you break.

    Ignore what this moronic troll says about you. You know it’s not true, and your real friends wont believe it. You have become a great friend to me, and I always look forward to our chats. I hope things get better, but if you ever need a shoulder, I’m always around.

    ((Big Air Hugs))

  5. Wow! I can’t believe this happened to you! I can’t believe there are people in the world who would demean other mothers and marriage to make themselves feel better about their mistakes. I know what a hot mess my marriage was in the first year, not to mention how I felt when I was prego/had my babies. You’re amazing and brave and I can’t believe how far you’ve come. I love you girl!!

  6. I’m glad you denied her request. She doesn’t deserve it. She deserves to be put in a “bad light”. I’ve known too many people like that, who forget that there are living beings on the other side of the screen. You can’t say things and expect someone to not be hurt. You can’t treat someone like they’re dirt and expect them to just forget and move on. The world doesn’t work like that. I’m glad you were able to move on and I hope sharing this with the world helps heal some of the hurt. There are good people out there. It’s just very hard to find them among all the @$$hats. :)

  7. Amy McBay on May 7, 2013 at 12:13 pm said:

    The nerve of this woman. It’s not like you posted her name and the group that attacked you. All you did is tell your story with omitted names. I’m glad you stood your ground. Bravo on taking the high road!

  8. I started wondering if you’d joined the same group I was briefly a member of, because the women in it were EXACTLY like that. And like you, I was belittled for being a noob and my kids were put down. I was also struggling with post-partum depression at the time. I left the group after less than a week, but over 12 years later, the scars remain. I don’t dwell on it, but it still hurts to remember. It’s hard to believe some women can be like this, and be able to live with themselves.

  9. You know, I found this post because I’m a FB friend of J.A. Bennett, and I was intrigued so I read it. I don’t know anything about you or your writing, but I do know that this post resonated with me. I don’t care what you told your friend or what problems you had with your husband that she took issue with; NO ONE deserves to be told the things those vile women said to you. The only thing I wish is that you had called this woman out by name. It would have served her right to be ostracized by the internet at large. However, I guess that’s sinking to her level so I’m glad you were the better person. Just know that you have another follower after this post and another person in your corner. I’m with you, Kathleen! :)

  10. It’s one of the big downsides of communication via technology – people seem to feel way freer to be horrible to others.

    I’m so sorry that this person who was supposed to be your friend felt the need to tear you down like that. And those women? Disgusting. There’s never a good reason to tell someone that they aren’t fit to live. (Sadly, I’ve seen variants of this behavior often in communities of “moms” – why do some women feel the need to gang up on each other like this?)

    And this friend asking you to remove the post? Well, if she’s that bothered by how this depicts her, perhaps she should think about her actions in the future. Hopefully she learns something from this so future “friends” of hers don’t get hurt.

    Hugs to you.

  11. Kay on May 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm said:

    Good for you for sharing this! I sympathize with the post-partum depression; I dealt with it after my third son’s birth and I now think I had it after my first son was born, too, though it was never diagnosed then. I think you’re incredibly brave for sharing all this in a public forum because I went through something similar (not online, but IRL, and it still hurts), but I don’t know that I could post about it. Reading your post was like reading about my life over the last year. I’m so glad you denied that request and left this up – after all, it’s not like you posted her name or anything.

  12. Stephanie Fuller on May 9, 2013 at 1:23 am said:

    I found this on FB. A friend of mine posted it and it sounds so eerily like some message boards I belonged to when I was first married and had my daughter. I’m still a member, but rarely go to them any more. It is just not worth the drama some days. If I want to be in contact with specific people, we are friends elsewhere. I’m so sorry that something like this happened to you. It is heartbreaking to see (and I’ve seen the pile ons…) when one person turns on another like that. Thank you for writing this post for all of those out there who have been bullied in one way or another. *hugs*

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  14. Oh.My.Gosh.

    I have no words for something like this–my mind is blown.

    Thank you so much for sharing! Glad I clicked on the link on twitter!

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