“Breathe”

My story of bullying and what we can all do to be better

I truly contemplated writing this…..still am.

Disclosure: The following blog discusses the following topics (Sexual abuse, suicide, and bullying). If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please contact 1-800-273-8255.

Over the course of the past couple months, I have felt misjudged in this fandom, I have tried not to let those who don’t know me personally impact me, but it’s hard to be tough and vulnerable all at the same time. I believe we all have a story, a reason why we all respond to things the way we do, I realized some things from my past have resurfaced during these difficult moments and I feel it is time I share my story with you all. I have never publicly spoke on this subject for a multitude a reasons, but in writing this I hope this gives some of you the courage to share your truths and for me finally the peace of closure I so desperately need from my past.

I was with my husband for a total of 10 years between marriage and dating. During 2 of those years, I was being sexually assaulted by my husband’s close friend. I did not come forward during those two years because I was so afraid of so many things. First, I was afraid of losing my husband and best friend, second, I was afraid of all the repercussions that would come with coming forward. I was just in total fear quite honestly. I believed I could handle it on my own, and when I was told it would not happen again, I believed it. I did not want to be the person to rip the blindfold over my husband’s eyes and destroy everything that was precious about his childhood and best friend. I thought it was the best thing I could do to keep this all to myself and I will suffer in silence. It was not until a family gathering on Christmas Eve that pushed me to come forward. His friend was incredibly drunk and would not accept no for an answer. He slapped me and pulled me to the ground until I was able to run out of the room. I knew the next morning, I would never escape this abuse until I said something. A month later I came forward, my husband while deeply distraught, did in fact believe me and his friend was out of our lives for good since then. My husband’s family never believed me though. They questioned all my actions, questioned my story, analyzed any decision I ever made, and were angry with ME for breaking up a 20-year friendship.

My husband and I divorced 6 years later, but we remained good friends. He always protected me, always had my back, and always looked out for me and I did the same for him. We even spoke about the abuse three weeks before he passed away. With tears in his eyes, he said “I’m sorry I didn’t protect you when you needed me.”

On May 8, 2019, my husband (yes, I still refer to him as my husband we were only divorced less then a year before he passed) passed away of heart failure. Very sudden and unexpected his death shook us all.  The entire process leading up to the wake and funeral was very jarring. His family asked me to oversee the funeral services but withheld giving me information, such as the contact information for the priest holding services. Calls would not get answered, texts unresponded to. I almost felt like they were setting me up for failure. During this time, I was trying to process and grieve my husband’s death while now handling planning his funeral all on my own. I was told I could not go to the funeral home because it would be uncomfortable for everyone because his then girlfriend would be there, and this would be upsetting for her. Then on the day of his wake, his sister finally called me “Listen (abusers name) will be a pallbearer, some of us went back and forth about this decision but it’s what John (my husband) would have wanted. So, make sure to add him on the program” I cried on the phone for a few moments straight. They did not care about me; they didn’t believe what I went through and now I will have to face this person while at my husband’s funeral.

My abuser did come forward at the wake and apologized to me for everything he put me through.

I went forward and planned a damn good funeral to make my husband proud despite barely hanging on by a thread and just numb of everything that was happening around me. At the end of the funeral, his sister hosted a reception for all sorts for people to come together and I attended, worst decision ever. An aunt of my husband’s whom I never met before came up to me. “Hey, I have to ask you, did you really get raped???”  Yep, word for word. I just cried and bawled explaining what happened and she says “You know, you are the most hated woman in this room. Everyone hates you for what you did to (friends name) and how it affected John. You ruined John.”  I ran out the door to cry in silence, none of my friends were there to protect me or defend me, I was just there thinking I was with people I considered family at one point. When I came inside to gather my things, my sister-in-law said, “What’s wrong?” When I explained what happened she just rolled her eyes. “This isn’t about you, it’s about John and we need to honor John’s memory.” I was completely gaslighted, at my own husband’s funeral of all places.

My friend picked me up and I was just a mess. I spent the rest of the evening crawled into a ball crying non-stop feeling violated all over again and again. The next morning, I contemplated suicide, but I was telling myself it was pointless because if I went to heaven God and John would just reject me for being a horrible person. Where could I go if God does not want me and everyone on earth hates me. The one person in the world who always had my back, always looked out for me, always saw the best in me was gone and I never felt so isolated and alone in my entire life.

Through the love and support of my close friends and family it took some time for me to recover but I am still not fully recovered, never will be. There are some things you just cannot move past, I never received my husband’s belongings -things WE collected over the course of our marriage, never received his ashes after I pleaded for just some, there has been no contact with his family since that event. There was a thank you card I received a year later that I just ripped up, because I was just insulted, this was my worth in their eyes.

I came into this fandom because the Backstreet Boys helped me through his loss, I play “Breathe” over and over as my song for John. The line “Don’t let go when the daylight’s gone cause it’s always darkest before the dawn, I breathe. When the cold air starts filing up my lungs and I hate the things that I’ve become, I breathe.” This line helped me through this whole ordeal at his funeral. The podcast helped me put all my grief and energy into something productive, positive and helped me connect with others.

But as of the last few months, I’ve witnessed and experienced so much hostility and bullying with each other it reminds of all the things I ran away from two years ago. My escape is now becoming the place I ran away from and it’s dark and hard to cope with. I never thought I would be in a position to have to explain my character to people I don’t know and to be reminded of my past, it’s hard, it’s really hard.

The overall issue is that this is not just a ME issue, this is a fandom issue. I share my story but I know we all have our own story, things that have happened to us in the past to make us respond to things in the ways we do today. Hurt people HURT people, I say this because when I feel pushed into a corner I will lash out and throw all my rage at the person to defend my name because of the experiences of my past. Those who I feel have attacked me have also been personally attacked as well by others and this cycle that has been created won’t stop until someone throws the white flag and says “enough is enough”.

For the most part, I don’t think people realize how their actions are considered negative. If you are protecting yourself, then at all costs you will do anything to protect yourself, the fight or flight approach. The toxicity happens when outsiders get involved, they do not know all the pieces, they hear one side, get personally biased, and then they feel the need to get involved. I have never known an instance where two people have a conflict and then everyone got involved and everything turned out so much better! Yeah, does not happen.

Removing myself from the example, I have seen countless and countless tweets where others call out people specifically and drag them through the mud and I have never understood what the point of that was. Do you hope that person will say “I’m an asshole, thanks everyone really learned my lesson!” It’s what COULD happen behind the scenes that terrifies me. I think about when I was in the fetal position praying to die after the funeral, and no one sees that. You don’t see the tears and pain people go through on the other side of the computer or our actions. You may think you’re sticking up for your friend who was wronged but when its 20 people against one person -there is no fair fight in that scenario. I cannot tell you how much damage you are causing when you collectively gain up on someone, even when you consider something “a joke” – it’s bullying, please stop. We have to do better; we have to be better.

To be called a bully is just the worst word right because we’ve been bullied, we care about issues in the world – WE KNOW BETTER. But not always, I was bullied, and I have bullied. I have pushed people for a response, wanted to fight instead of listen, called people names. I’m sure I overcompensated for the pain I was put through, but the cycle of pain and bullying doesn’t stop until we change ourselves. If I hurt you, if I caused you any pain in my actions, I am truly sorry. Please DM me, please, if I hurt you I owe you an apology.

Lastly, I am sharing this incredibly vulnerable and traumatic experience because ironically, I feel this place is a safe space to share this story that has held me down for so long. I still don’t have the courage to share this in my personal life on Facebook for fear of what would be said about me by his family and friends. If you have read this far, thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read my story. Please everyone let’s be mindful of our actions, we never know what someone is going through until sometimes it’s too late.

2 thoughts on ““Breathe”

  1. Hi, I know that you hate me. I was genuinely trying to help you, and for that horrible rumor to be cleared up, and to be over for you. I never knew that it would spiral into her, and about other Friends that won’t leave me alone now. Thanks for sharing your story! That’s all so awful, and so sad! I’m sorry that happened to you! I hope that things continue to get better for you! Sorry for sharing that with you! I was only trying to help with you the story that’s not true about you. I read all of this. I can relate in someways. Big hugs! Lots of love! Maybe unblock me so that we can talk. So sorry for me, and what happened with all of that!

    Like

  2. Omfg I am so so sorry for what you went through and reading your story absolutely ripped my heart into pieces if you need to talk you can find me on twitter @karintear1 you can privately dm and what ever we talk about stays between me and you hope to hear from you take care and stay safe hun xx

    Liked by 1 person

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