“We have met the enemy and it is us.”

12 Jan

When I started Grade Nine,  all knees and elbows and lady parts I didn’t know what to do with, when I was 13 or maybe 14, I don’t remember, I walked into the yard of that new school, I screwed up my courage getting off that bus, walked towards the door and heard those words.

“You look like a boy. You dyke.”

Hardly anything to be terrified by. I was big, I was different, I was obviously uncomfortable in my skin. She jumped all over that. Her words were made scary by the look in her eyes. Feral. A 19 year old bullying a 14 year old-she’d have to be like a rabid dog.

She went away. And I learned not to give a shit.

*************************

I haven’t been bullied in a very long time. I’m not much for other people, and generally, if I don’t respect you, you can’t hurt me.

That is, until I done did a stupid, and suddenly it was ok the smear me against the wall over and over and over again.

Ever cringed when you open a link? Ever sat stupefied, reading about how you’ve sent “a band of vengeful followers” to do…something-my bidding I guess? Ever sat back and thought, well now, all I did was write something dumb-I didn’t make signs and write songs so every one would see-why am I the bad guy? Why do I keep reading things saying that my ability to be a parent should be questioned, that since I’m bipolar, everyone knows I’m going to abuse my children, it’s proven by studies!

I’ve had to stomach the internet’s version of the big, blind, mulleted, closeted lesbian bully. And it sucks ASS.

I haven’t said much. I’ve kept it, mostly, here, conversations with friends online, my head. I’ve thought about how no one seems to understand that a visit from CAS isn’t something to trifle with in the best of times, how they don’t get that fear, the fear the comes with knowing that 90% of the people you talk to think that because you’re mentally ill, you’re hazardous, and should perhaps be labelled as such. I’ve thought about context, and how no one seems to have any, cherry picking posts to illustrate their points, and refusing to look at the obvious joy I hold for my children.

I’ve thought about how I’ve been quiet through most of this, and taken it. How I’ve strived to be the better person, strived to silent the mob because no one believes all of a story anyway.

It didn’t matter.

I’ve read that I “got what was coming to me”

I’m sure I would have appreciated that if I had to spend the next month fighting to get my children back.

I’ve been called a “princess”

Because no one could be bothered to directly contact me before notifying hundreds of people.

I’ve read that I need counselling, that I’m destroying my daughter’s self worth.

Because my parenting can be judged based on what I write here, the place I let loose the dogs of my head.

I’ve read I did it all for traffic.

On a site without ad revenue, with an author who has turned down numerous chances to increase traffic.

Because I’m bipolar. Because I’m bipolar. Because I’m bipolar.

You get it yet? I can’t be trusted, because I’m bipolar. This only happened, because I’m bipolar. I must be questioned, my children protected, because I’m bipolar.

Someone got excited, and i could have lost my children. But I had it coming, right? I should pay for having the nerve to open my mouth without a smiley face or something just as inane attached to it.

The past week or so has felt like being attacked by invisible ghosts-opening my email could become this perilous foray into what people thought was wrong with me. Following a link to make sure nothing even worse was said left me unable to eat for the majority of 3 or 4 days. I’ve had the specter of that Grade Nine bully hanging over me, again because I’ve put something out there. I’ve opened myself up-I’ve hung the grand flag of weird.

I’ve admitted a mistake. I’ve admitted I am not perfect. I have not lied, backpaddled, or whined that the world isn’t fair. I’ve taken my lumps, and am now dealing with the fact that my name is slandered across the internet as some sort of cautionary tale for the mom-set, if I’m not being condescended to as a “mommy blog”. I’m being pointed to as a “what if”-remember the pregnant girl in the neighbourhood and one of your parents would wag a finger and tell you NO! Yeah, I’m that giant fricken belly.

I’m not a monster. I’m not a frivolous “mom” bouncing around making muffins and watching Oprah. I’m not out to eat my children, in fact I know I’m a DAMN good mother, and no amount of someone calling the police will change that certainty. I am a frail, tired human being somedays, just like you are. Difference being, I’m willing to admit it, and sometimes, my honesty gets the better of me. I spent years never saying anything meaningful to anyone, and I never want to live that way again.

And the judgement. Sigh….why can’t we all be the types of mother’s we are-be it happy bouncy muffin moms or moms like me, who despite roadblocks, love and parent their children fiercely, even if it’s a little differently. Why do we fight against each other, assume one side knows better? Why do I judge you sometimes, because you maybe don’t have the same problems, or any it seems.

Seems is apparently the word that got a LOT of us in trouble, and will continue to do so. It seemed like I was dangerous. It seemed like someone just wanted attention. It seems like I have minions. It seems like I don’t appreciate that someone cared.

Seems we all have something to learn.

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19 Responses to ““We have met the enemy and it is us.””

  1. Not Afraid To Use It January 13, 2009 at 12:44 am #

    I came over because Krishana linked to you. Said she loved reading you and that meant I wanted to come on over and give it a go. I thankfully missed all the drama, and I look forward to coming back and reading more when things settle down for you.

  2. lesfriendly January 13, 2009 at 7:24 am #

    i missed the drama too. read back, yoda says

  3. Shana January 13, 2009 at 7:37 am #

    Is there any way that you could just STOP searching for and reading these things, just stop looking for this kind of news? It will do you no good, and it means nothing to the idiots writing them. I promise you that this kind of nonsense will die away in time.

    Listen to what you wrote yourself in the first part. You don’t care what other people think if you don’t respect them. And there is no reason you should respect people who have that much free time to judge the parenting ability of strangers, based on a very small number of words.

    There is a life outside the internet. There is your family, your real friends. You don’t need to defend yourself or your mothering skills against people who don’t know you.

    Once I read something in Miss Manners about how to respond to a stranger criticizing mothering skills (maybe the mom and kid were on a bus, and the kid wasn’t wearing a hat in cold weather). Miss Manners recommended giving the critic an icy stare for several seconds, then saying: “I don’t believe we’ve met, have we?” And if the stranger persists: “I don’t recall asking your opinion.”

  4. thordora January 13, 2009 at 7:44 am #

    Oh I know. This is just one side of it. The only part that bothers me is the mental illness=monster part. The rest of it? Pfft. Fuck them. I know who I am, and that’s what matters.

    Other mothers that get harassed into the ground-well, they aren’t so lucky. And I’ve heard enough stories over the last week about it happening.

  5. Jennifer January 13, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    I was you a few years ago, it happened within the confines of a message board. I was bullied until I left, then was slammed and trashed afterwards with an “invite” to defend myself. I had owned the message board, and I turned it over to one of the bullies because I was beaten down, abused and couldn’t take it anymore.

    THis will haunt you for a long time Thor. I’m sorry. I looked at my own situation as a way to learn from it. For me, I learned not to give too much of myself. I learned not to trust or love too freely. I also learned that internet relationships should be held at arms length.

    I wish I could say something to take it away for you.

  6. Marcy January 13, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    I think you were among my readers when that girl announced she could no longer read or support me because of what an awful person and mother I was being — that was fairly devastating for a few months — but I was fortunate that it was all done via email — I wrote a few posts about it, but it didn’t evolve and spread like your situation has.

    I’m sorry that that happened to you — not a nice way to be paid attention to.

  7. Betsey January 13, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    I’m sorry but this all seems so ridiculous to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been exposed to bi-polar and “crazy” most of my life or that I find sarcasm is an underrated art form. From what I can see I think you are divine and someone I can relate to and this has all made you so brave to keep facing it.

    Take care of yourself and parent yourself fiercely. Don’t give into the ugliness of so called do-gooders who apparently do good by being mean and judgmental.

  8. superlagirl January 13, 2009 at 10:42 am #

    “I am a frail, tired human being somedays, just like you are. Difference being, I’m willing to admit it, and sometimes, my honesty gets the better of me.”

    Yup. I’ve said before that the only difference between us, persons with a psych label, and those without a psych label is that we’re on a first name basis with our demons. Now why would that make us *more* dangerous?

    I hope this dies down soon. The stress it’s causing you is evident.

  9. Kathyp January 13, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    I found myself in the same situation as Jennifer did: I said something on a message board another person took offense to — I owned up to it, and apologized (which, in hindsight, I regret), but it no longer seemed to matter. Many people at this place were no longer my “friends,” and the whole thing became an uncomfortable mess. I know that doesn’t even come close to having the cops called on you, but it still stings.

    That was four years ago, and that person still lurks at my site, which stifles me even more. I wish I had some advice, or could say, “This will blow over,” but sometimes the damage is done, and unfortunately, everything online is archived, so it’s easy to become tethered to something said, something taken out of context…

    The thing that helps me is to remember that I am not my blog, and to find other, non-internet avenues for creativity.

  10. Jen January 13, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    I still just can’t believe how nasty people have been about this, about you. I think sometimes folks forget that we’re all real people here even though we’re not standing in front of each other.
    I am so very sorry this has happened to you. It really does show how much openly sanctioned prejudice there is against people with mental disorders.

  11. Gwen January 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    Strangely, the around the same time your whole thing blew up, I was watching this tv show where a bipolar mother was instantly suspected and vilified because she was mentally ill.

    We have so far to go in understanding mental illness and in accepting it (and also in learning how to use the anonymous shield of the internet responsibly). I imagine being a poster grrrrrl for mental illness and motherhood has to be tiring and difficult, even without all this shit being tossed your way. I’m sorry, so sorry. But it just underscores even more how vital your kind of honesty and transparency is.

  12. misspudding January 13, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    What everyone else is saying…

    But I must add, one of the things I love desperately about you, and why I continue to read your blog and no one else’s (except for Kate and Dutch) from our days at BB, is because you’re so incredibly authentic. I hope you’re like that in your real life off of the computer.

    The reason I mention that is because to be authentic, you’re true to yourself, not to anyone else. And well, this can get you into trouble but it’s a much better way to live than being a doormat. I’ve struggled for decades to gain some authenticity in my life and I’m finally getting a smidgen of it, but…it still baffles me. Kudos to you for that.

    And…fuck ’em!

  13. March January 13, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    ok this is really getting ridiculous. I can’t believe how much “talk” is going on about this.

    and you know what? those that are throwing stones at you are the first ones that feel like bad mothers, thus their sick need to make themselves look better and desperately trying to “save” the world.

    they are bored women that have low self-esteem and have nothing to do but butt into other’s live’s whether through the internet or their PTA.

    it makes me so angry to see all this going around. of course they don’t know you, nor they care to. you are a good mother, as good a mother as any of us can be. we’re all up and down, we’re all imperfect.

    I wish I could slap all these people. really.

  14. thordora January 13, 2009 at 2:38 pm #

    Dude….I think that’s the meanest I’ve ever heard you, she who juggles more in a day than I do in a week. 🙂

    All things do pass. I just hate when no one learns anything.

  15. Ameroux January 13, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    Rock on, Thordora.

  16. Chiara January 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    Hi, I’ve been lurking since I heard about this from Cecily (blog drama!). But I was so impressed with your writing that I’ve stuck around and subscribed. (But no Twitter for me, thankyouverruhmuch!)

    I guess the thing that gets me about this is the factor of “there but for the grace of God go I” you know? There is NO ONE who is writing any condemnation of you that has done everything perfectly as a parent. Not only that, but my perfect and anyone else’s perfect are very different things.

    And I really feel this because of an incident that happened when my husband and I were just friends way back in the day – and I made a joke (slam) over email that to me was a throwaway that I immediately forgot about, but to him was a totally devastating knife to the back, given his situation then. And he tried not talking to me again, until I figured out something was up and dragged it out of him. And when I looked at it again, yeah, it was a really, really mean comment. And I cried and felt like utter garbage and convinced him that I truly didn’t mean it like that and, hey, we got past it and married a few years later and now it’s just a funny part of our history! But I sooooo get how easily our WORDS can slip out and cause all kinds of havoc WAY out of proportion with intentions.

    I completely agree with the person above who talked about your authentic voice. Hate that it had to be like this, but I’m glad I found you.

  17. Rachel M. January 13, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    Last night as I tried to sleep over the sound of my husband snoring, I thought of your blog and considered that if you had written a twitter about smothering your husband so would stop snoring people might laugh and nod in agreement fully knowing it’s a joke. I then thought of Jenny McCarthy’s novel where she writes a line of kicking, hitting and punching her husband to get him to stop snoring and then considers smothering him – hey a celebrity wrote it she can’t be serious It was funny. Ha ha, we’ve all been frustrated with snoring. Then I wondered why all the fuss? A joke is a joke regardless of the target. I know this has been talked to pieces. Just wanted to post my perspective.

  18. antropologa January 13, 2009 at 11:12 pm #

    I have been so surprised by all the coverage of and talking about this. Over a joke! So sorry.

  19. Lala January 14, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    One of the things that bugs me the most is how utterly powerless I feel because I can’t HELP you cope with this situation. I have no words and no time for these people and I have nothing but love, respect and thanks for you.

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