It’s been almost a year since I last wrote on this blog.
At first being away from this space was about my safety, both online and offline. However, the longer I was away, the more complicated things became for me in what I realized about myself.
Let's go back a bit
I knew after writing the “When Harley Met Joker” series that there would be consequences because of who the Joker is, and the complicated layers of dishonesty he had formed about who I am and what our relationship was. Women involved with him before me who had experienced his emotional abuse had never spoken about it as publicly as I did in the series. So I knew he would be angry about it because I was exposing so many of his secrets. I was speaking out about who he really is and how far he is willing to go to control people and relationships. I also knew that anyone he had had successfully convinced I was a selfish evil gaslighting bitch would be angry about my post as well. I was prepared for the anger, I’m a black woman online, who talks about white people in an honest way, who talks about love on this land, who does workshops on the intersections of white supremacy and polyamory - People are always angry with me. I don’t quite know why at that time though, I did not really analyze what I was doing when I wrote the series. I should have been more honest with myself about the politics behind it. I had the audacity to be a black woman and not only wield agency in my choosing to be proud of how I love, and how I’ve always loved but to also admit to romantic failures; own those failures and speak the truth about what a popular well liked black man had done to me - and I was unapologetic about it, how dare I eh?
Perhaps I could have spared myself some suffering if I really stepped into that awareness and been honest with myself about what that all really meant. So, when I hit publish, I expected criticism, I expected judgment but I was foolishly unprepared for what happened next.
I began to receive a wave a messages from different women online, some I knew, some I didn’t who could tell exactly who I was writing about. They shared with me that he had done similar things to them and they thanked me for my sharing my experience in such detail. It made me feel warm and happy. I spent so much time protecting him and believing in him that my heart was broken when I found out who he really was and how much had lied about. It was really embarrassing. And to be honest, it was hard for me to feel good about myself after essentially wasting so much of my time with someone who just didn’t even like me. I felt unattractive and stupid. And at that point the only thing I had was the blog. It was nice to know (albeit shitty circumstances) that I wasn’t the only one, that it was not about me, it was about him and his desire to hurt people. I was happy I wrote the series.
That happiness didn’t stay with me long though. Things got pretty fucked up, pretty quickly.…
The good messages got overpowered by violent messages soon after. Some messages were anonymous, others were not. I was accused of being a liar. That I had created this fairy tale of a story that did not include all the ways that I had been abusive to him. I was called a gas-lighter. Delusional. Selfish. Evil. Bitch.
It seemed as though every person in the world that didn’t like me got together and became friends. They were all very angry with me. And they made it very clear that they were going to make sure I suffered for writing publicly about what had happened to me.
And oh boy did I suffer.
There was a period of four days straight from 9am to midnight where I was harassed on all social media platforms. Then as I began to disconnect online, my harassers went on to attack friends; colleagues; various places of digital employment. Some of the harassment was as a result of what I had written and other bits of the harassment was rooted in people’s general hatred of me and them just deciding to use the chaos I was trapped in as the perfect platform to release their rage against me.
Eventually I was forced to unplug ALL social media. I had to disconnect the blog, screen all my calls, and attempt to remove as much of my digital fingerprint as possible.
In one instance I even had to call the police. Something I never thought I would have to do in my entire life ( especially considering the relationship the police has with black bodies) but I was running out of options. Things had erupted in every corner of my life, and it seemed as though the community I had built no longer existed. It evaporated in a second in my eyes because nobody was helping me. Nobody was coming to my rescue. And things had gotten really dangerous, some of my harassers had even discussed how badly they wanted to push me to the edge so that I would kill myself.
I was totally unprepared for all of this. I had never in my adult life experienced this level of abuse and harassment online. The digital world has always been a safe space for me. A space where I could be who I really am and find comfort and community. When I wrote that piece, it felt like only momentarily did I experience joy and pride within myself for being brave. The abuse completely overshadowed any good feelings I had about what I had written and about myself. They took so much from me, and so quickly.
So I made a digital wipe. I deleted my twitter. Deactivated Facebook. And attempted to remove as much of my digital fingerprint as possible.
I isolated, HARD.
I told myself I would stay offline in all ways until the start of 2018. I would rebuild, take the time to secure myself and my work in offline and online. Four months felt like a reasonable amount of time to be away and quite honestly I needed the break. Since the start of this journey I felt this immense pressure on the blog to write about certain experiences, to almost perform a certain image of polyamory and for a long while things were feeling funny. The “When Harley Met Joker” series fell out of me naturally, I didn’t plan it all, it was just something that I needed to talk about it. I needed to let people know. I needed to warn anyone else who may have made the mistake of loving him like I did. But everything in between that and the first post that I wrote about my Polyamorous Black Girl experience was while I was with him, and I knew my mind was not right and that’s why things were feeling funny. The break was completely necessary, from the abuse I experienced, the disconnect I felt from the blog, not really understanding who I was and why I always seemed to fall for men who didn’t love me, was a process and an experience I needed to explore and unpack if I was going to ever finish my book; continue the blog or ever have a good relationship again - I needed to get back to myself.
When the start of 2018 came, I still wasn’t ready to write. I actually wasn’t ready to do anything at all. I had lost so much because of what had happened. As a freelance writer (among other things) having my digital presence wiped had a series of really harsh consequences that I neglected to think through before I hit the delete button of myself online. I was not making any money. I did not have a community online anymore. I was too embarrassed and afraid to reach out to anyone to help me. And so I fell into a very deep (dangerous) depression.
I’ve been living with complex post traumatic stress disorder since I was a little girl. In my mind I was managing it and myself very well for a long time but I suppose this experience was a trauma that my mind and body had not experienced in adult hood, so my symptoms expanded and I was more or less trapped by my mind, by traumas. Everything bad that had every happened began to consume me. It’s all I could think about. Auditory and visual flashbacks through almost every hour of every day, nearly pushed me over the edge. I stopped eating. I couldn’t sleep. I engaged in various self harming behaviours.
Everything was so heavy. I wanted to hide forever.
Being a black woman online has always had a certain set of challenges, but for me those challenges that I always experienced online, mirrored my experiences as a black woman offline. And so it wasn’t always easy to navigate but it was familiar. I understood what was going to come at me and I have always been spicy enough to fight back.
Being a black woman online, while be honest about polyamory and my relationships and developing a fairly high level of visibility was a new set of challenges. Unfamiliar challenges. Challenges that I was not prepared to deal with. The abusive relationship I had experienced, the harassment online, my digital safe space no longer being safe anymore, all of these things were new and I couldn’t handle it. It was probably the first time in a long time that I really didn’t know what to do. How to be better. How to survive. How to handle everything that was coming at me and not collapse and die.
The pathway to figuring out what the hell I was going to do was really complicated and difficult but I knew I could not hide forever.
I was honest with myself about what it meant to write again, be visible again, and share my experiences (good or bad) online. If I was not prepared for the challenges, that were intrinsically linked with the he(art) work i was doing I would be destroyed. In my screenwriting, a prominent theme has always been fearless vulnerability. I had passionately written about it and included it in every script I had ever written. But did I even understand what it was? Did I know what I meant to be fearlessly vulnerable?---I didn’t. And if I was going to get over this dark depressing moment in my life and continue doing the work and the journey that I believe in so much, I needed to get to know fearless vulnerability and truly step into it.
And so I did, I stepped feet first into a space of spiritual solitude, which turned into a process of changing my life. At first it began by my embracing everything that made me feel uncomfortable. I printed out all the negative things that were said about me online, and I read through them almost daily, trying to understand how/why people could feel that way about me and examine whether or not I believed them. And then I worked from there.
I went over all my choices in my last relationship and acknowledged that ultimately the reason why things went the way they did was because I did not love myself at all. Now there was no way I could have changed who and how he was, but I was not capable of walking away because I felt as though he, that situation, was the best I could do. I really felt that I was deserving of a monster such as him. I made a choice, and I must own choice and work on forgiving myself for it.
I started acknowledging my mental illness and began sharing with people in my close circles about what it truly means to live with complex post traumatic stress disorder. I began attending cognitive processing therapy (which I will discuss in detail in a later post) and redefined my relationship with drugs and alcohol.
And that’s where I’ve been, in the world, changing my life. It’s been hard to try and explain why I haven’t been posting when people ask. It has all been so much that I have never had the right words to explain my disappearance for this past year and to be honest, I didn’t really want to.
I wanted to enjoy myself, get to know myself, my new self, without the gaze and judgment of others. The abuse and harassment that I have experienced have taught me so much about people, online spaces, and the power that I have. It was essential to me to get to a good place spiritually and emotionally before I stepped back online and shared my journey with you all.
Right now in this moment, I feel like a different girl than the girl that first started this blog. I feel stronger. I am rich with intention and purpose and I feel as though I have survived the worst of it. Whatever comes my way now, I am prepared, I am organized and I am ready.
Anytime a black woman stands tall and talks about the ways in which people hurt and harm her, and refuses to accept it, there will always be a mob fighting to destroy her.
Today, I can confidently say that I am ready for the mob, I welcome them and I welcome you back to my diary.
Most importantly, I want remind you that I am THAT bitch, and I ain’t going nowhere.