An Open Letter to My Bully

Beware the person who stabs you and then tells the world they’re the one who’s bleeding.”

~Jill Blakeway

Dear… Well, you know who you are. I have been told by several people (those people that give you information whether you want it or not, whether you care about it or not) that you still follow my blogs, still read my posts, so I know that you’ll read this one as well.

Today I’m writing as a different person than I was yesterday, as a different person than I was last week, last month, even a different person than I have been over the last couple of years.

I forgot who I was.

Or maybe I let you steal who I am from me.

When I got bullied, harassed, and attacked by authors, I was told to be proud, that this meant I had made it. It is worn almost as a badge of honor, or at least people tell you it’s supposed to be.

This is the world we live in, where this kind of behavior is acceptable, where there’s nothing you can do about it. People tell you it’s no big deal because it’s just online. It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t bother you. It’s not real life. Just get off the computer, get off the internet, and it will all go away.

(No matter how much it really hurts. No matter how much it doesn’t go away.)

When I was attacked by you, a fellow book blogger, I was ignored. And worse, I was abandoned.

They believed your lies, with zero proof of the allegations you piled at my feet. (Ms. M to the public, my name in private.)

No one wanted to hear the truth, or even cared to find out the other side of the story.

Your wife destroyed my reputation, liabled me to the point of considering legal repercussions, and threatened me.

I lost business because of your lies. I lost followers because of your lies. I lost working with some authors and even some publishers because of your lies.

I was scoffed when I tried to eloquently, but abstractly, speak out about what I was going through. I wanted someone to listen, someone to hear what I was going through, someone to care, to understand… and maybe explain to me how something I love, something I am so passionate about, can give me such anxiety now.

I sat in silence as people I knew for years spoke about being Team Other Guy, publicly calling for the head of the person who was daily trying to make you quit.

Something that never happened.

You made it all up. Every single bit of it. And the worst part of it all is that you needed no proof to rally the public to your side.

And now, the people who knew your name and know what you did to me, they like to remind me that you are no longer a blogger, as if that changes things, takes away from the hurt and pain that you caused, means I won.

It doesn’t.

And I can’t. Can’t be a blogger. Not really. No matter how much my heart wants to.

My brain just won’t let me.

I have always been so strong. I was not stronger than this.

I was so confused when you did what you did. Followed by hurt, then angry for so so long. But now? I just feel sorry for you. You felt so unimportant that you had to steal your importance from someone else, rather than create your own.

You compared yourself to others, and you chose to systematically destroy someone that you were… what? envious of?

No one knows the real story. Just you. Just me.

It’s time I spoke out and let people know what REALLY happened.

We were friends. We spoke often about books, I listened to you share problems and concerns you were having in the book community, and when you decided that you wanted to be a book blogger, I spent MONTHS helping you create your world. I was there when you were picking apart every little detail of the blog, when you were nervous about writing your first post, when you needed someone to remind you that you could do it. That was me. I was the one. I gave you my opinion when you asked for it, advice when you asked for it, and read every post you put up so that I was ready to discuss it with you when you contacted me. (And you did. Every day. Discussing your post. Needing feedback. Needing validation. Needing someone to tell you how good you were.)

And it wasn’t just me. In your forgetting all that I did in our friendship, you forgot that my mother was a part of this as well.

It went on for weeks, months. Every single day. Hours, daily, of our time.

(Note: I don’t regret the time that I spent helping you. I do, however, regret the time that I put into a friendship that clearly was not one.)

(Do you remember how angry you used to get when I didn’t respond to you quick enough, even though you knew that it was in the middle of the night for me, expecting me to sit up all night helping you in whatever way that you expected? Do you remember the fits you would throw, the nasty, negative things you would say? Your childish behavior? I sure do.)

I told everyone I knew to read your blog. I put links to your blog on mine. I shared your posts on social media.

During this time and after, you had a public falling out with a fellow blogger who I happened to also consider a friend. I spoke to him at great lengths about the issue and you at great lengths about the issue, never once judging either one of you or choosing sides, not because I needed or wanted gossip, but because that’s what friends do. They listen when their friend has a problem. And that’s what I considered us. Friends.

At some point, I noticed that you weren’t messaging me every day like you had been for weeks. When I reached out to you, you didn’t respond. I figured that life had just gotten busy for you – I mean, blogging is not easy. People who don’t blog think that it’s just a bunch of fun and games, but it’s a lot of work. I gave you your space, but still supported you just as strongly as I had been.

That’s when I started hearing the whispers.

You were going to quit. Not because you wanted to, but because this terrible, horrible person was trying to force you to do so.

Some said blackmail. Some said bullying. All agreed that there was some vendetta, some campaign against you.

But no one knew a name.

I reached out to you on several occasions to find out what was happening and how I could help. Nothing.

Then one day, while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw a friend of mine comment about how you were being attacked and he was so emotional about the fact that anyone could do that to you. I read his words, his call for anger from the community, his support of you, and his venom for this person that was bullying you across social media.

The infamous Ms. M.

Your wife had a lot of stuff to say about this woman – threats and condemnation and a call for war, but nothing more about who the person was that was attacking you.

More whispers. A couple of odd questions from people that didn’t make sense at the time. Some people blocked me on social media (including a friend of mine from real life that was part of the book community).

Then there were several nasty emails. Nothing specific. Just calling me out of my name, telling me where they thought I should end up after my death. Ya know…

It wasn’t until I tried to message a publishing company that I was working with, and found out that they had blocked me, that I really started to question things. I spoke to the gentleman I mentioned before, and he assured me that this had nothing to do with me, that I wasn’t this Ms. M, that I was just reading too much into the fact that you weren’t responding to my attempts at contact, that I was just trying to make this all about me (boy was I selfish and self-important).

A week or so later, the same publishing company over on Goodreads recommended a book to me. And I’ll admit, I was rather unprofessional in my response to them. I called them out for the fact that they blocked me somewhere – WHILE WE WERE WORKING TOGETHER – and then had the gall to think that I would want to read a book that they recommended to me. Their response floored me. But I now finally knew the truth.

I was the infamous Ms. M. It was ME that your wife was stirring hatred up for, it was ME that everyone was against (without knowing who I was, because apparently you only spoke my name in private to people you were sure would believe you), it was ME that you were spreading outright lies about.

I was, to be completely honest, livid. Not at first with you, interestingly enough. (As I said before, I was concerned, and then hurt.) I was angry at this person for not asking me anything about the situation. He actually apologized several times, saying that he had been bullied before and that he just immediately believed it, but then later, questioned whether he thought this was actually something I could or would do to someone. He used the book request as a way to reach out.

You made everything up. Because I NEVER bullied you. I NEVER once tried to get you to quit. I supported you FROM DAY ONE of you deciding you wanted to be a blogger.

I cannot fathom how you were so believable that NO ONE asked you for proof. Which would have sucked for you since you have none.

In this day and age, when everyone screenshots everything – this happened after the author-blogger battle on Goodreads – and you don’t have anything to post to prove what I supposedly did to you? You calling me a bully was all you had to do? Oh and put up a post on your blog with a sign saying you quit?

(Trust me, the fact that no one made you PROVE IT really made me lose all respect for LOTS of people. A respect that no one has been able to earn back yet.)

I spoke your name to less than ten people, never anything more than to defend myself to people I really cared about. You spoke my name to a lot more than that.

I quit. Not really, I couldn’t do that – I loved my blog too much to be an actual quitter, to admit to anyone, including and especially you, that I had – but the reality of it is, I quit. I’ve hardly written a review or a blog post in all these years. I couldn’t read for over two. I’m lucky if I can read 50 books in a year, when before I was reading 200+. My Kindle is not something I pick up every day like it was before. (In fact, and it makes me want to cry to think about it, but it’s something that goes ignored an awful lot in my world now, this ever present companion that has gotten me through the worst of times.)

I realize that I am not STUCK on what you did to me, as I always thought, but AFRAID that I will have to go through the whole situation again with some other blogger that, for some reason, has decided I’m in their way.

TODAY I speak out.

TODAY I say that it is NOT right, that it is NOT okay, that it is NOT a right of passage.

Bullying is wrong. No matter what venue they pursue it in. It is WRONG.

This is ME taking back my name. Taking back my voice. Taking back what I am so passionate about.

This is ME letting go.

And to you, the man who bullied me all those years ago, who still has the nerve to speak my name and still try to ruin me…

I forgive you.

I pray for you.

And now… I forget you ever existed. Because you are not worth taking up space in my brain.

UPDATE: I figured something out today, after reading this post 50+ times, making sure it was perfect and that I was really ready to speak my truth to the world. NOTHING has been the same since this event. I have never looked at the community, or the people in it, the same. I no longer feel a part of it, instead seeing myself as someone standing outside looking in (like Charlie at the candy shop). No matter how much I try to be a part of it, no matter how much I help, no matter how much I do, I am no longer a part of this community. And that’s fine because I no longer feel anything for it. There are some people that I still very much care about, but as a whole, it means nothing. (You took more from me than I already knew.) I blame them as much as I blame you. I supported everyone and have been all these years since, but in my darkest hour, when I was being bullied, not a one of them supported me.

I’ve realized that I AM stronger than this… and I forgive them too.

3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Bully”

  1. The bookish community can be really wonderful, but in other ways, incredibly toxic. The bookish community loves cancel culture. They are so anti-bullying, that they actually become the bullies.
    Sometimes I love this community and sometimes I hate it.
    I’m so sorry this happened to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have no idea what you’re referring to I’m so out of the loop. But, I’m incredibly sad that this happened to you. You’ve been nothing but supportive of so many authors including myself. I’m so grateful to you and I hope you can truly let this go. I know it’s not easy having been bullied in the past myself. But, you deserve so much better. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

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