To Paint a Picture

WARNING: This story contains difficult topics such as suicide, loss, eating disorders, and cyber-bullying.

Lady Anonymous

My past came back to haunt me the other day.

I had predicted it many times before.

I’ve often pondered the day they’d track me down. What if they tried to restart all the damage caused way back when?

Then

It started at a time in my life when I was most fragile. My mother had just died and I was at the cusp of my grief. Though, I didn’t know it, for at that point, I had gone completely numb. I would stay up for nights on end, not sleeping and chain-smoking. My fingers tapped away at 1,000 books that would never be published. I’d isolated myself from everyone, everything. Though, I didn’t notice.

When I didn’t care to make a friend in this world, somehow one found me anyway. I’ve spoken about him before, on my own, but that’s another story. We were both members of a popular forum online at the time. What was strange, perhaps, was the way we sort of “bumped into” each other, not knowing we didn’t live far from one another.

This friend and I would later go on to build impossibly wonderful things. A company, countless artworks, a book, an unfinished video game concept, tutorials, short stories, music, sound effects, you name it. It all fell under the same umbrella, part of something that rose and fell all in just a few years.

We had a main website up and several subpages, along with an online forum of our own and a YouTube channel. When we hit our highest point, our absolute zenith, it all came crashing down.

During the first night, when we first started to notice pieces of our site disappearing, subtle changes, my friend sent me an email. It simply contained this song:

-and I knew exactly what he meant.

It’s remained a reminder to this day.

The Freight Train

Due to something unrelated (I still don’t fully know the reason. Only bits and specs of the truth.), a person and a group of others decided to slowly hack and destroy everything my friend and I had built. Then, they took things a step further and got a little more personal.

They started to hack into my personal files, my entire computer at the time, and the manner in which they obtained said information and later used it against me, soon caused an outcome I don’t fully think they were expecting.

It got so much more invasive than you’d expect. They’d gotten hold of months worth of conversations I’d had, bits of writing I’d shared saved to their hard drives, in special folders. One of the hackers in particular (the one that set this whole train in motion) even developed a bit of an obsession, openly admitting he had a folder on his computer named after me, a desktop wallpaper with my face, among many other disturbing, unnerving things. He threatened me, but never directly- and all of them were quick to cover their tracks. They always cleaned up their messes and did their hacking covertly, using software that masks them and the detection used to obtain their wanted info.

After all this went on, the worst was yet to come. Social Media had just started booming around that time. So they took to it, delving even deeper into my personal life, even going as far as to contact some friends and acquaintances.

I remember a series of about three nights where I’d log into any random account and everything I saw online was a post about me. They were incredibly smart never to use my name, but they’d use hints and codes so I’d know it was directed at me.

The worst of it was on the last night, they brought my deceased family members into it, mainly my mother. They claimed I paraded their deaths around, in seeking out pity or sympathy or attention.

Let me say right now for the record: That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Anything I’d ever shared with people about loss was done so in trust, and never to seek out some miserable empty attention. In fact, I wanted to be invisible around that time. I’d turn away anyone but my best friend, and the main people in my everyday life. Maybe some of that was the problem. They just made false assumptions based on bits and pieces of my life.

They dragged my name through the mud. They accused me of a laundry list of atrocities, and even crimes. All the time threatening to press charges on me for reasons that would make you laugh. Of course none of it held or would hold up in court. It didn’t matter, though, I believed them. The damage was done.

Those three long nights of online harassment at the hands of them, and people I thought I knew, caused me to lose my mind.

I mean that exactly how it sounds. The panic disorder I had at the time brought every feeling I’d been internalizing bubbling to the surface, and I cracked. I had a nervous breakdown and it was no one’s fault but mine.

The Road to Repair

After that whole ordeal (I’ll spare you the details of the breakdown itself), I went into an extensive set of therapies. I quit bad habits, I became healthier, started actually living again. What started that same night at a hospital psych ward, turned into a two week in-patient program, and was later followed by two outpatient therapies.

My life was a mess but I was picking up the pieces. They told me I came in suicidial, I had anorexia, (which I wasn’t even aware of, because it wasn’t intentional, I simply wasn’t eating, in my warped state.) and that I weighed only 100lbs upon entry.

With the help of someone I love dearly, I was able to find some peace while going through that horrifying ordeal of hospitalization. It almost broke our relationship a few times, but he stuck by me and is still here today. I can’t imagine it being easy on him. Seeing someone you love completely lose it, while you slowly try to reel her back in to reality.

I owe my sanity to him, and to my friends and family tethering me to this Earth. It’s because of them I was able to clean up my life, treat my issues, and later go on to have a family of my own and become a productive member of society.

A New Picture

I’m not sharing this story today for pity. Nor am I sharing this story for support, or the seeking of any form of attention.

I’m sharing this story today because I’m no longer scared.

What happened to me is wrong and it is damn well time I started addressing it. Especially since these same people are seeking me out and targeting me once more.

I had a wonderful conversation with our own Matticus the other morning when they first breached my current site. After we talked, I marinated on the fact that this is a topic that shouldn’t go away. This form of malicious hatred happens often online to people of all ages, and for some, it even goes as far as my incident did – sometimes even worse.

This was the reason I have remained anonymous online.

I apologize for not telling you sooner. This was however, my most difficult story, and I have never been quite ready to lift the veil.

They found me a few days ago because of a small picture I recently put up over at my art gallery, that displays a small portion of my actual face. I disguised it, tried to make it look like art, but anyone that knows me well knows my face.

There’s a huge difference now from what took place back then. I’m stronger now, having been dealt many more blows after that. Besides, motherhood being a challenge on its own, I think I’ve earned some strength stripes. I’ve mastered the art of the bounce-back. More importantly, I have the support of a new set of friends, that I’m confident won’t ever intentionally hurt me.

I know they won’t hurt me because, Goldy, even through her own hurt, comforted Rara, Matt, even through his own hurt, comforted me, and Jon, and, Jaded. I know they won’t hurt me because late at night, when the flashes of the past hurt threaten to smother me, Jaded will send me a message. I know they won’t hurt me because Kozo, even after all these years, still sends me kind words. I know they won’t hurt me because, even through all of the horribly unfortunate events that fell upon our Rara this past year, she asks me in a letter if I’m doing ok. I know they won’t hurt me because when I was having a particularly rough go of it one day, Samara and NotAPunkRocker didn’t hesitate to give me their phone numbers.

I know they won’t hurt me because when we lost one of our own, we all banded together.

That’s the key in all this. Support. Love. Nurturing. We all need it as humans. We shouldn’t be tearing one another down. I have no delusions or illusions of being perfect. Now you just know it.

I’m no longer scared.

I’m painting a new picture today and it’s one that doesn’t require my artistic hand.

Picture0017

The picture I’m painting is me.

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65 thoughts on “To Paint a Picture

  1. You’ve come a long way and it’s just lovely to see your beautiful face 😀

    The words ‘haters gonna hate’ came into my mind as I was reading through this. I don’t know what makes anyone think that tearing down the life of another is a good thing. Does it make them feel more powerful? Can they go to bed at night with a smile on their faces knowing that someone is hurting? What the hell is wrong with these people?

    The only thing that keeps me going when people try to tear me down is the satisfaction that Karma is waiting just around the corner. It is real and the universe has an amazing way of leveling out situations. You now have beautiful, caring and loving friends and I truly admire you for this show of strength xxxxx

    Liked by 5 people

    • Oh sweetheart, how’d I know you’d be the first one to get me all misty-eyed. I’m glad you guys don’t see the me that they see.
      I’m even more glad that a lot of you are starting to see the real me.

      Sadly, my dear friend, I think they took a lot of enjoyment out of this. & I also think they thought I wouldn’t be bothered by it because one of their comments was “she’s dead inside”

      – they thought I felt no pain. If they only knew, right?
      Why after all these years have they decided to start this again? I dunno. Nothing better to do with their time, I guess.

      I’ve taken steps to see them in trouble with WordPress if they mess with my site again. Perhaps even the law. (But you know the justice system these days. It’s a coin toss.)

      sigh.
      Aside from all that grief, I agree 100% about karma. I’ve seen it in motion before. It’s a beautiful thing.

      Like

      • You know you can get their IP address from any comments they make? If you check online this can also provide their location. I did this to someone who was trolling me. I told them I had their IP address, knew where they worked and had contacted their employer (which I did). LOL – they never bothered me again.
        They may come back because people like this are rotten on the inside and like to know they’ve got you.

        Good on you for taking steps with WordPress – they’re pretty good xxxx

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for that. Part of me really needed to hear it. They are wonderful, friend. They truly are. That’s why this has become such a loving place, because of them. There’s a surplus of ugliness in the world. Together, we care and just want to help. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • Anybody that followed my private Instagram may’ve caught a glimpse of me before. That’s not many people, though. But some of our friends from the blogosphere are there. 🙂 A lot more faces recently too. Guess we’ve all had it with hiding. We all have our reasons. Sadly this was mine. *hugs to you Jackie*
      Thank you for just being there. You are all always such a comfort.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love this! It is inspiring to know someone that overcame this great anxiety to rebuild yourself! If only we could all learn from your experiences! Author J.B. Snow

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Reblogged this on CardCastlesInTheSky and commented:

    I knew I’d have to lift the veil somewhat sooner or later. I’m just sorry it’s under these circumstances. It’s only appropriate I share this here as well since it’s a piece of me. It’s a shred of my story amongst many other CardCastles as you’ve come to know them.

    I shared it with Stories because it was just so difficult to share – and I needed my friends there for support.
    Thank you for staying with me every step of the way. & Thank you Rara for this amazing place you dreamt up to tell it from.

    Since I’m somewhat of a private person, you probably won’t see me posting photos everywhere suddenly. & You still may not know some things, but a name, a story, an experience, hey, every day is a new day, right?

    Liked by 2 people

    • You guys are getting me all blushy reading these comments. I’m glad I have the strength now too. I owe that to my friends here. They’ve been a huge support with every difficult story I’ve shared. I had a lot of trouble writing this, but once it was complete – I felt a weight lifted off. I owe that to them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are beautiful! And good, strong, kind, and brave. As to hackers, probation isn’t restricting my access to computers so they should tread lightly, or better yet… Not tread at all. Grawr.

    I’m glad you’re healing. I’m glad you showing off all the beautiful colors that you are.

    And I’m glad you are here, safe with us, even though you’re more than certainly strong enough to handle it on your own. 🙂

    Beautiful writing, beautiful girl.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hahahaaa!! Uh-oh. Here’s to hoping they never know the wrath of the deadly Grawr!
      It took a long time, dear friend.
      I’m only able to do it because of you.
      & ‘Cause it’s about time.
      As you would say “this one’s just for me”
      (But for anyone that felt like me as well)

      People need to realize how serious and not cool this stuff is. Folks kill themselves over this mess. All of us need to speak up. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Some ppl powertrip on fear and weakness of others, they’re psychopaths. I’m so sorry you had to experience such a violation, online bullying is all about mind games b/c they can never really hurt you, unless you allow them (just like you pointed out).
    I’m happy to hear you are so much stronger today, and have taken back u’r power!
    Do what you gotta do in life, but know that you are loved, and together we can overcome anything. That much i know for certain! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maddie dearest, I’m thoroughly convinced a few of them are unhinged, especially the one that got obsessed. It’s sad I got brought down to that level as well.

      I’m boundlessly grateful I’m no longer in that place. Thank you for being a friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My pleasure, i’m glad to hear it’s over and done with, no one should be intimidated and fearful on the internet. It’s about coming together as a global community and taking our power back.
        Keep expressing u’r light! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • I am too, leigh, dear. It took my already strained trust issues & made them worse.
      I’ll do my best not to lose myself ever again. That was a long time ago. Thankfully, I’ve gained some armor since then. 😉

      Like

  6. You my friend are beautiful and strong. I’ll always be here for you. Hmm. Wonder if I should retaliate back to them. Don’t worry I wont, but sometimes I get vindictive and protective of people I care for. Love you! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww sweetness, don’t. They’re not worth the agony. They’ll target you too. & I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on my worst enemy. The night I cracked, (it was like 1 in the morning, I was freaking out thinking someone was coming to arrest me. It was all in my head. I literally heard speeding trains coming to a screeching halt (like they do in the movies) in my head. & It wouldn’t stop. I physically, couldn’t speak. I still do not know why. It was a breakdown in every sense of the word. & I got myself there, by trusting people I shouldn’t have.
      I guess the moral of the story is, be careful who you trust or befriend online, at least until you know a lot about them. (& Are sure that information is the truth.)

      I’m protective of those I care for as well. So, I understand. 😉 Love you. ❤ xoxox

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I only have major hugs and love for you, beautiful friend. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Even today I am hiding from certain people, though in plain sight, if that makes any sense. Let them think they know what's up; they are dangerous but stupid, where yours sound malicious and calculating unfortunately.

    Thoughts are with you and you know where to find me, anytime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They certainly are malicious & calculating, and stealthy. It really sucks but I was ready for this, friend. My former/missing/who(to borrow jaded’s amazing “Fn”) Fn knows? best friend mentioned above even warned me the last time we spoke. In a similar way to sending that song, he was like, just remember “X” and them may start investigating or something to that effect (When I opened up the site here.)

      I’m glad I know where to find all of you anytime. I’m very thankful for that. You just gave me an idea for something we could possibly do in November, next time I’m here. 😀 A little Thanksgiving thing. That would be awesome.

      Like

  8. And this picture is lovely! You go, girl! ♥
    I’ve seen this post on Twitter and been searching for it to read. Damn I can relate to every word. Just know that you never been or are alone in this, because stories like this, unfortunately, happen to people all around today. I myself have had an experience with stalking, and am very informed about the subject right now. It won’t also hurt to know now that they are actually criminally liable and can be juristically traced.
    So much about it is psychotic, these people feed on energy of their victim’s fear and abashment, and manage to get them in the corner.
    But they should be pretty much dealt with like with annoying nightmares and wandering earthbound entities – when you no longer show them care or fear, they lose interest and go hang out someplace else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always known we had this in common. I remember three years ago, getting to know you & then discussing how we both had to “hide”.
      It is such a shame. They’re still targeting me, sadly. They’re still using the same tactics they did back in 2006 so it’s easier to anticipate their next movement now.
      They can’t scare me anyone. Whatever they destroy, I will rebuild.
      I hope it’s the same for you.

      Like

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