It seems like yesterday, okay, it seems like a month ago that I announced I was going to be able to go to Penned Con. A few weeks ago that I proudly posted and blogged and tweeted about my ability to attend my first convention in about two years.
I was excited, no ecstatic. I had missed going to conventions and my boyfriend and I had tweaked and twisted the budget to make sure it was possible. I waited until the last minute to announce because finances are pretty tight right now. I am in the middle of a Custody Battle and lawyers are expensive, but my kids come first.
I had made everything fit, I was pretty darn proud of myself.
Then something happened.
I was verbally attacked by another author who will be attending the event.
Now, I hesitate to use the word “attacked” because people tend to associate that with a very violent feat, but I am actually not entirely sure how else to phrase it.
You see, since I broke free of a very emotionally abusive relationship two years ago I have been diagnosed with PTSD. It is a lovely accompaniment to the Anxiety I have crippled by for most of my life. It has been a struggle, hell, LIFE has been a struggle.
If you haven’t noticed I’ve pretty much all but disappeared from social media for the last two years. Writing posts was hard because my ex had people watching my pages and things were constantly showing up in court. Checking my email was hard because nine times of ten there was another verbally abusive email that would send me into a panic for days on end and threaten to destroy what little safety I had been able to create for myself.
Online was hard.
Living was hard.
It’s only been for the past few months that I have begun to feel like myself.
And, before we go any further, I don’t expect people to cater to me. I have worked very hard to recognize my limits, my boundaries, and even harder to be able to associate within, what I like to call, “Author-dom.” I am not ruled by my PTSD and Anxiety – but it is part of me – and something I am still learning to conquer.
So last week, when a post showed up in a group I am in, I read it excitedly. It was about a new business, I thought it was a good idea. One of the comments however addressed something that I also had concerns with. So I replied to it:
“I would wonder this as well. I worked with [The Company before] and had an issue similar to that.”
Within moments I was contacted by the person who owns said business, and showered with words like “unjustified” “malicious” “slanderous” and “sabotage.” The messages continued on for about an hour as I was continually berated by these accusations as I attempted in vain to explain why I said what I did, how I wasn’t doing the things that she claimed, how as a business owner she probably shouldn’t be saying what she was… and on… and on…
All over a post that was nothing more than a question based comment.
And all of a sudden that event that I was so excited to attend felt like a death sentence. That safe space that I built up in my head became a horror ground.
I started having panic attacks almost daily, I stopped being able to sleep. And what was worse, that fear over being able to be on facebook, and to post on facebook came back – scared that everything I was posting was being screen shot, scared that that author was going to turn around and attack me further.
It was traumatizing. After all the progress I had made, after all the work I had done. I was back to square one. All over a post that was – when all things were considered – Nothing.
After over a week of dealing with that – and then dealing with strangely condescending posts from the same author… I just couldn’t.
After speaking to my therapist yesterday it became frighteningly clear that I couldn’t go.
I couldn’t go to this event that I had been sooo looking forward to. I couldn’t put myself into a situation that was toxic and unsafe. Not after all the progress I made. I needed to do what was right for me – and as much as it sucked – Penned could no longer happen.
I’m sure people will be upset, I’m sure readers will be angry. And I don’t know what else to say but – I’m sorry.
I am not a person who attacks others, I am not a person who slanders and manipulates, but I was made out to be.
Thanks to other posts too, I now feel like a “scum of the earth” author for having to pull out of the event at the last minute.
But, it is what it is. I have to do what’s right for me. And this is it.
So, I hope you will forgive me, and I hope you will give me another chance when I am finally able to attend an event again. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be strong enough to face that bully someday – but until then, I am strong enough to know when to walk away and protect myself.
And in ways, that’s a whole different kind of strength.
Note: I have obviously changed some of the wording on what I posted, and kept names out of it because this post was not meant as a defaming post, or to point fingers. Just to explain why I will no longer be attending. In fact, even posting this is pretty scary for me, because I am worried the author will – once again – attack me. Plus, I can guarantee it’s going to show up in court with divorce stuff. That it’s going to be used by someone else to paint yet another incorrect picture of me. But you guys deserve honesty – and I have to be brave enough to give it.
From Pinterest – I don’t own