Last year, I became a part of a national story involving an ESPN reporter who had been less than polite to a few people. I won’t describe the incidents here or name the reporter, but this is a link to what happened to start the conversation about this reporter, this was what happened to me, and this was the first report written about what happened to me. My story spread pretty quickly. I was interviewed by Inside Edition. The Daily Mail wrote a story about what happened to me. The local news did a piece on what happened. CNN reached out to me for an interview, but I declined. I declined a lot of interviews.
For the first time in my life, I felt like someone who bullied me was finally being called out. A lot of people backed me up during this time, something I was never afforded during the years of bullying I was subjected to in junior high and high school.
I was overwhelmed with the kindness people showed me. I had people from all over the country sending me messages of support, and I am so grateful and touched that people reached out to me and showed me love when I needed it the most.
I needed the support because unfortunately, this wasn’t all roses for me. As part of the aftermath of my story getting out, I got to see an uglier side of the internet than I had ever experienced before.
1. I got accused of lying. – I didn’t know how to go out there and defend my truth any more than I already had, so I just sat there and watched as the internet accused me of being a liar. Some of it was passive commenting on stories. Some people reached out to me and called me a liar.
2. I got accused of unfairly bringing this to the attention of her employer. – I never contacted ESPN, for the record. The only time ESPN was contacted about this, to my knowledge, was by the local news station who reached out to ESPN for comment (they did not respond). However, people made the assumption that I was trying to get this person fired, and I was accused of being immoral. I tried to ignore it, but people wouldn’t stop. I started defending my blog post – which really, is just a screencap account of what happened – but that just created even more attacks and took everything down a terrible rabbit hole.
3. People told me I wasn’t actually bullied and that I should calm down. – Many people thought the awful thing that happened during this incident I got upset that she insulted me. I was told I needed to grow up. I was told I was making a big deal of something minuscule. I was told that I was the one who was in the wrong, and enough people told me that that I began to wonder if that was true (fast forward – I don’t think that’s true).
4. I was stalked – And it was terrifying. Someone decided to follow me on all my social media accounts and tell me he was “going to make an example” of me. He wrote me very lengthy emails to me at my work email where he made threats to me because I wouldn’t respond to him, and again, he said he was going to “make an example of me.” He wrote a lengthy email to my boss to tell him that I was “immoral,” a “liar,” and “vicious,” among other things. He wrote a piece similar to the email he sent to my boss, but more lengthy, and then emailed it to ALL of my coworkers. I was afraid he was going to kill me.
I chose to write about “The Aftermath” here not because I want to drag out an old story, but because this is my anxiety blog, and this event was important to me in how I handle my anxiety.
I’m still struggling with the stalking. Enough time has passed that I’m not in fear of my safety all the time, but I’m still nervous that this person is plotting to hurt me. Part of this might have to do with the irrational fear I am faced with sometimes as a part of my anxiety. Part of this has to do with my experience of dealing with sociopaths and violent criminals and seeing what they are capable of. I’m working through this through prayer, yoga, and supportive people in my life.
I did learn something good because of The Aftermath: No one gets to tell me how I should or should not feel, and I don’t have to justify how I feel.
Justification is so draining, y’all. What’s the point in expending so much energy in something that will create no change? If someone’s mind is made up, there is no point trying to convince them I’m right. If they do change their mind, there is still no point in trying to convince them I’m right.
And should I change how I feel because someone doesn’t like the way I feel? No! If someone has a problem with the way I feel, then that is for them to deal with, not me. I am free to feel the way I feel. You are free to feel the way you feel!
I’d do this all over again if I had to…. but let’s hope I don’t.