Another factor complicating my dealing with being banned from the forum was the shame and secrecy I insisted on maintaining over it. In the aftermath of my banning I reached out to some people from the forum and some people from the forum reached out to me but I would not discuss the issue with anyone who was not a member of the forum.
My loved ones who knew me in real life could sense that I was upset but when they asked me what was wrong I would not tell them. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my therapist about it. I had this fear that she would tell my mother about it or that she would go looking for the forum and find it.
Bernadette said to me “I don’t think your therapist would be able to find the forum or that she’d tell your mother about it and even if she did, so what? I think excessive anxiety about this situation is preventing you from taking steps that would allow you to move on from it as quickly as possible.”
Kevin, one of the forum members I’d reached out to, said “Kira, I can only imagine how isolated you must feel right now and I’m happy to listen but I can’t help but feel that I’m not the best person to talk to about this. I have strong ties to the forum and I’m friends with a lot of the people who went after you. I think you need to speak with someone who can be more neutral.”
Again, I recognized the wisdom in their words and I knew I needed to speak to someone because I was in a really bad place emotionally but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
People continued to talk about me on the forum and I continued to hear about it. Soon the talk turned to speculation about my personal life. Being picked apart like that when I was feeling so down added insult to injury.
In an effort to find out more about me members of the board Googled my name. They posted links to the information they found including my stepfather’s work page and the obituary of my stepbrother, who had died tragically and unexpectedly at a young age.
Several members said they thought I had been lying about various aspects of my life and identity. Exactly one year to the day before I was banned my beloved dog had died tragically when she suffocated on a chip bag. I had been devastated and had expressed my devastation over the accident on the forum.
Now Cowgirl was suggesting that I had faked my dog’s death. Overall the members of that forum were very intelligent but Cowgirl had never been the sharpest tool in the shed so perhaps she surmised that I had been lying about my dog’s death because her Googling turned up obituaries for my family members who had died but no obituary for my dog.
The accusations got even more ridiculous than that. There were people who thought Bernadette and I were really the same person. There were people who were suspicious of the fact that I never posted pictures of myself on that forum and said that for all they knew I was really a dude.
Sure, the reason I never posted pictures could have been that I was really a dude but it also could have been because at the time I did not own a digital camera. Plus when I already had a group of people constantly criticizing my character, I didn’t really want them picking apart my looks as well. Don’t think the members of that forum were above doing that either. One member called another member a confident ugly girl after she posted pictures of herself.
There was general disbelief that my stepfather was really as mean as I said he was. How ironic that a group of people who regularly made the same kind of cruel comments to me that my stepfather made would doubt that a man as cruel as him actually existed.
“The things those people are saying about me are so ridiculous” I vented to Karen.
“It’s all just speculation. You can’t be surprised. This always happens when members are banned.”
“They’re such assholes”
“People were messaging me about you after I said in the thread that I talk to you off the board so I posted that I know you’re real and I know you and Bernadette are not the same person.”
“What were they asking you about me?’
“They wanted to know if you were as consistent with your story off the board as you are on the board.”
“I hate them.”
“I’m not going to tell you about what they’re saying anymore because it’s just upsetting you and I don’t like doing that.”
“They can all kiss my ass.”
“Okay, this is really starting to stress me out. I’m really, really sorry that you got banned. I do not think it was cool. But I’m going to have to step back from the situation. I wish you all the best. I really do.”
And then she blocked me.