I realized yesterday what is actually going on, like a photograph coming into sharp focus.
I'm having a trauma response to something horrible that happened a couple of months ago. I'll tell you more about it below.
Trauma is an interesting thing. Our bodies and minds respond very purposefully to it. Even when we don't want them to, sometimes our bodies and minds try to protect us from things that it finds dangerous. They want to protect us from things that have caused pain, or things that we feel threaten us in some way. Our bodies and minds are miraculous that way.
I absolutely, 100% love this blog. I have loved it from the day of its inception--back in 2010 when it was about me coming to grips with my Inattentive ADHD--but I didn't truly fall in love with it until about ten months in when, on a whim, I decided to start writing humor posts.
A whole world opened up to me then. It was magical. I could let my internal voice shine through. I felt like I was sharing a huge, hilarious joke with the world, and that we were all laughing together like good friends.
My blog started getting dangerous for me when it exploded all over the entire Internet and people started coming here and saying truly caustic things about me and my family. Viral posts are often an accident, and they have a very traumatic feel to them--one day your life is one way, and the next, everything is different and the Whole World is watching you. It's freaking scary.
At that point, I wrote a quick, panicked email to one of my blogging heroes, Jenny Lawson, asking her if I should do anything but "enjoy the ride." She is very, very popular, and I didn't expect to get a reply back, but--being the awesome person she is--she did respond with a short, helpful email (warning: she swears):
At this point, my intention was to simply ignore anything he ever wrote again. I was horrified by the things he had said about my wife and children. It's funny when you get abusively attacked--the shame is so visceral, like you are the one that has done something wrong. I felt ashamed that he had said those things. Like I had brought it on myself somehow. It felt embarrassing to admit that I was being cyberbullied. It made me feel very weak and very powerless. At first, I didn't tell anyone it was happening, even Lolly, because I never, ever wanted her to have to read the horrible things he had said about her. I didn't want to admit what was happening to me to anybody. I honestly thought that if I ignored him, it would go away.
His next message stopped me in my tracks.
After saying he hoped my wife would be gang raped, and that my children would be ripped away from me, this tiny message, which I saw in the middle of the night with my sweet wife sleeping by my side, filled me with fear. My mind flashed through recent days. Had I seen anything amiss? Was this person following me? Were my children at risk? I sat, stunned, picturing the horrible things a person so filled with hate could do to my children. How could I know what a person like this could do? Visions of car wrecks and kidnappings and brutality haunted me. I felt sick.
At first, I was paralyzed. I looked into what Facebook could to to protect me, but there was no real recourse. I tried to tell myself it was fine, and that I was overreacting. I wanted to tell Lolly what was going on, but I felt ashamed, and I still didn't want her to know what he said about her. That was one of the things that felt the worst--knowing that if I told her what was happening, she would have to read those words which I knew would wound her.
When he left another message on my Facebook page a day or two later, something in me snapped. It was late at night again, and I got very angry. I wrote the following message: