TRIGGER WARNING: Suicidality and calling the crisis line.
So, my life has fallen apart. What else is new? I have an enemy from the NYC Midnight forum. Her name’s Taylor. She’s a prissy bitch. Last October, she was pivotal in causing things to go awry on the forum because she’s a bully and a “mean girl”. I was suffering just watching her sickly sweet acts of condescension, and I couldn’t stand to see her ganging up on everyone and destroying them. I tried to stop the argument and wound up fleeing the forum. It was ugly.
I lashed out at Taylor in very inappropriate ways. (Although if we’re being honest, are there ever any appropriate ways to lash out? Huh.) I tried to trigger her with issues involving eating disorders and abortions. It wasn’t exactly my finest moment. I was barely hanging onto my sanity. But I’m not trying to make excuses.
She wrote a scathing review of one of my self-published books on Goodreads so she could get even. I buckled and apologized (not because of the book review, which I’d reported to Goodreads–I think it broke a few rules), but because I felt bad that there was so much hate and negativity.
Hi, this is Meg. I want to apologize for being awful to you. I’m very sorry. This week has been stressful for me. I don’t handle forum stuff well, and it hurts me to see people being mean to each other or ganging up on each other. It’s just not something I can handle without going batshit unhinged. I hope you can forgive me. I’m staying away from the forum, obviously, and I think that’s best for me. There are some things I can’t handle. I’m not sure how other people handle it. Anyway, I hope you and I have better days tomorrow.
Edit: I’m not trying to blame you for all that. I’m not sure what the hell happened on the forum. But I do hope you’ll forgive me. I’m very sincerely sorry and not trying to start something, I swear. If I can make it up to you somehow, let me know.
She wrote back thusly:
I forgive you. Thank you for apologizing. None of us are defined by our worst moments, thankfully
[You wrote,] If I can make it up to you somehow, let me know.
The only thing you can do is try to think about how you would feel before messaging others out of anger. If I actually did have an eating disorder or experienced trauma due to pregnancy, those messages would have been extremely triggering. I do not, but I mention it because I don’t think you would want to cause that kind of mental harm upon another person
Hope you find some peace
And I added:
Thank you, I truly appreciate it. And I have given it lots of thought and am frustrated with myself for not being more in control. I strive to be a better person than I am, more often than not, but I’ll still give it more thought too and try harder. I guess all we can do is hope not to lose it again and keep trying. Good luck in the current round of flash fiction!! 🙂 Thanks so much.
That was the end of our conversation. But it left me feeling worse. A lot worse. Like I’d tried so hard to make things right, and she just kept lecturing me and acting all holier-than-thou; and she didn’t apologize for anything.
I left the forums because I couldn’t handle that level of hostility and snark and backstabbing. But I got a new stalker account and just recently started using it to rate all of her topics 1-star.
It’s been nine months. I have no idea how she knew it was me. I figured there would be a long list of possible suspects.
She sent me an email saying:
Stop harassing me
I’m about 95% sure you’re the person one-starring my forum threads.
Move on and stop harassing me.
If you do it again, I’m reporting it to Charlie and getting you IP-banned from the forums.
I wrote back:
Report whatever you want. I have no comment.
She was furious and I felt good, like I’d gotten one over on her.
Taylor posted this about me on the forum:
Zelda… I’m 95% sure that you’re the one doing this. Go away, you absolute troll, and stop harassing me and others on this forum. This behavior is pathetic and annoying.
(Zelda, for anyone curious, sent me extremely toxic PMs last year calling me anorexic and accusing me of having had an abortion for absolutely no reason. Apparently she’s still obsessed with me.)
If I see it again I’m reporting it to Charlie.
Then something truly awful happened. Last night before bed I saw the recent results of the short-story competition. I’d entered it but hadn’t made it to the final round. Taylor won.
I was floored. I’d had this whole fantasy of getting revenge on her by outwriting her and scoring higher. Well, that ship has sailed. I read her story. It had good elements but was devoid of emotion or sentiment. Oh, and one character kills a unicorn.
Something shifted inside me and I realized that it’s pointless for me to do the contests. If I were ever to win, the fact that Taylor has won will totally devalue my being a winner. There’s no better way to describe it. It would be like winning a gold medal in the Olympics when one of your teammates is a snarky bitch.
That hit me really hard. I’ve dreamed of winning or placing in these contests for years. Now that dream is gone. I no longer want to compete, nor will I. Sure, I might find other writing contests, but NYC Midnight was a big part of my life, and now it’s over.
I emailed Charlie, the head of NYC Midnight, thusly:
You gave the gold medal to that prissy little snot who tried to get me banned? Not cool! This is the person who posted a question on the forum begging to not get that promotional email you send out once a year. Yeah, her. You let HER STORY win!! You’ve just rewarded a total lack of morality! I know, writing isn’t about morality! But there must be something deeply flawed with your scoring system that it awards points for stories that are written by a shallow little bitch who has no heart, no conscience, no remorse, no deeper awareness of anything past her own nose. Think about that, Charlie. She owns the forums, and she made me flee them. Now she won. Why don’t you just marry her, too? She’s ugly. You could do better.
Don’t bother writing back. I know you won’t ruin my chances in these competitions, no matter how insane I get. If you had it in you to do that, then Taylor never would’ve won. Geez. It’s horrible that her writing has been validated. Horrible. That prissy little piece of street trash feels special now. Great job, Charlie! Great job!
Charlie was not amused.
Today I figured I’d start the day with the Olympics. Big mistake. The commentor on NBC said, “Just several hours ago, [name redacted] from [country redacted] won gold in the ladies’ individual all-around. You can catch all the action later during prime time.”
I was stunned, and the individual all-around is my favorite event. It’s stuff like this that could reignite my paranoia that the universe is out to get me.
I emailed Taylor:
You won! Congratulations, you cheap piece of trash.
Thanks! Hopefully you can move on and let bygones by bygones. I’d really like to just be left alone
Fair enough. You’ve really hurt me. I tried so hard to apologize to you last fall and you were just mean about it. But yes, there’s no way to fix things. It is what it is.
I emailed Charlie again and demanded refunds for the two contests I’m still involved in. He sent the refunds and said:
Ok Meg, that’s probably for the best at this point. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt a few months ago and everyone deserves a second chance, but it’s very hard to keep up with all these rude emails and demands. You had mentioned before you were dealing with mental illness issues, so I really hope you can get some help if that’s still the case. I’ve refunded both entry fees back to your account. Best of luck with your writing and with everything else.
At that point I just lost it. (It’s amazing I held onto it for so long.) Pretty soon I was sending him insane emails. I got mad at him for blaming me for what went wrong on the forum! I was victimized by it! I wasn’t causing the forum upsets! I became unhinged.
I was referring to the multiple emails you sent me calling me names and threatening to post negative reviews, I’m not blaming you for anything. Please don’t self-harm!!! Please call 800-273-8255 right away
Oh yeah, the emails I’d sent him then. I’d completely forgotten, and I still don’t remember (but I sure do believe it!).
Oh God. I’d forgotten about those emails! But you were so forgiving, I didn’t think you were mad. I block things out. I wanna throw up.
Yeah, that’s all I remember is that he forgave me. The rest is a blank. The emails I sent today will be a blank by tomorrow, too.
Charlie wrote back and insisted that I contact the suicide crisis line, so I did. I was ugly crying. I’m normally more articulate, but I couldn’t even explain to the guy on the phone what had gone wrong. I was a complete mess.
To be honest, I’ve felt off for a few days or so. (I’m not sure. I’m bad with time.) I got mad at a stranger on social media, and then all this stuff with Taylor started. It’s been on my mind that I was abused by my mother during summertime, and it’s starting to seem clear that I get angry or have issues every year around this time. And my dad abused me in winter. That gets triggered then, too.
I’m not going to sit here and declare that this is all Taylor’s fault. But I can’t imagine why I wanted to pick at the wound. My problem is that I can hold a grudge until the cows come home. Actually, longer. I need to deactivate the part of me that’s vengeful and filled with hatred. I’ll try some more self-help books. My dad said I should stay away from Taylor, and at this point it’s a huge certainty that I will, but knowing the universe, this same problem will just recur with someone else. That’s good news for Taylor, but bad news for me.
Charlie wrote back and was really nice about it. I appreciate that. He does seem to care. It’s sad that I’ll be parting ways with his contests. But I think it might be the right choice.