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.
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 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.]