How I Lost My Mind Online: Part One

February 11, 2016 — 78 Comments

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“Dear Samara,

Would you mind masturbating and mailing me your panties?”

Sincerely,
Franklin Horshucer, Serial Killer

I could hear his heavy breathing. He sounded like Darth Vader with a sinus infection.

 

—-

I had another blog before this one. I didn’t write anything on it. Me and writing – we don’t mix.

When I write, bad things happen. I get addicted to heroin. Stuff like that.

 

I did leave lots of comments, and started receiving emails from bloggers. How the hell did they get my email address?

Most of the emails were creepy. I ignored them.

Wait. What’s this?

“Dear Samara,

May I email you privately? Only if you don’t mind. If you do, I promise never to bother you again. But I am a Nice Guy and I do not breathe like Darth Vader.”

Signed,

Nice Guy

 

I liked him. He was a good writer, and so sweet. The one time I actually wrote something, he told me I was “brilliant.”

His email I answered.

 

We emailed back and forth constantly, all day.

I had a new friend. Someone who considered me a REAL WRITER, a moniker I hadn’t felt entitled to in two decades.

My entire life changed.

I was energized.

The Ex’s ongoing battle for alimony, my bankruptcy, my best friend with cancer, my son’s draining special needs…

I felt like I could conquer anything. After 20 years, I was a writer again!

And then –

Abruptly, radio silence. After a month of 50-plus emails a day.

I panicked. What had I done wrong?

 

 

I realized how lonely I was.

I never thought of myself that way. Constantly surrounded by people, I craved more alone time than I got.

What I didn’t know was how much I needed to connect deeply with another human being; to feel special and important. All this attention lavished on me brought something dead inside me back to life.

And this fierce longing for connection, awoken and now unfulfilled –  was brutal.

 

—-

In 3 days I was headed to Boston to take care of my best friend, my old college roommate, after her mastectomy. Just before I left, my cousin called me with tragic news.

My favorite uncle was dead. And I would have to miss his funeral, to take care of my friend.

My uncle. The only connection I ever had to my father.

I was unabashedly his favorite niece. He never tired of bragging about me.

For 40 years, my uncle fed me anecdotes of his beloved older brother – the father I never really knew.

Now, there would be no more stories of him, ever. All that remained of him was buried under 6 feet of cold earth.

At a funeral I wasn’t even able to attend.

 

—-

 

From Boston, I emailed Nice Guy. I was desperate to have my writing friend back.

A day went by. Two. Three days later, he sent me a brief, dismissive email

I never heard from him again.

—-

 

Home.

Exhausted. Confused. Grief stricken.

I was fragmenting. My past and present were colliding.

I checked in on Nice Guy’s blog. He’d found new favorites to fawn over.

I racked my brains to understand why I’d been discarded, until I realized –

He had found out

the truth.

I was no writer. I couldn’t even sustain his interest for more than a month. .

It was 1994 all over again.

I relived the horrendous mess I’d made of my life. I stopped sleeping. Judged myself ruthlessly.

I spent my days drifting through “The Land Of Horrible Ways I’d Fucked Up My Life.”

Welcome back. So good to see you again.

Would you like some drugs?

—-

 

My best friend got the pathology report back from her surgery.

“What do you mean, Stage 3 aggressive? You said Stage 1!”

She answered me patiently, as though I were the sick one. “Yes. But there was another lump in the lump they removed.”

“What does that even MEAN?”

It just meant she was much, much sicker than we thought.

—-

 

I came home one afternoon to find Little Dude crying bitterly. The Ex had kicked him.

My son’s favorite hobby is torturing us. But-

DO. NOT. HIT. MY. CHILD. 

 

During a session with Little Dude’s absurdly overpriced ADHD therapist, I suggested to my husband that he learn to cope with our son without putting a foot up his ass.

Dr. Interloper said, “You kicked your son?”

“Yes.”

“I’m going to have to report you to Child Protection Services.”

The Ex handled it well. Shouted that I was a cunt, flung the car keys at me and stormed out of the room.

I waited for the inevitable fallout, walking around with a bruise on my cheek from where the keys had landed.

Just like old times.

—-

 

The next night two social workers appeared in my driveway. We passed inspection with flying colors.

A few days later, the call came.

I was under investigation.

 

They’d asked if there had ever been any domestic abuse in our home.

I lied and said there hadn’t been. I didn’t think it through. I couldn’t think straight about much at all. Sleep deprived and depressed, I was too busy floating around in my failed past.

CPS found police records of emergency room visits and a restraining order.

What else had I lied about?

They informed me that, for the time being, he could stay in my custody.

 

I stopped breathing when they said those words.

 

This isn’t happening.

Please tell me this isn’t happening.

 

They arranged to interview his teacher.

The guidance counselor.

His pediatrician.

His dentist.

His motherfucking dentist.

I wondered how far back they would investigate. Dear God, the things they could find if they poked around enough.

 

 

I called the case worker. I groveled. Where my kid is concerned, I’m not above groveling.

I dialed her office. “I was the Class Mom 2 years in a row.”

Called again. “Did I tell you I run the PTO Trunk or Treat every year?”

I stayed up all night, searching through boxes of photos. Tears streamed down my face as I looked for evidence that I was a worthy mom.

I found pictures of the party we threw when my son started kindergarten. We had invited 22 kids we never met, and their parents, to our home for a “Welcome to Kindergarten Party.”

Little Dude and I had painted a banner that read:

WELCOME CLASS OF 2022!

welcome 2022

At 2 am I texted the case worker the picture.

It was an office number and it didn’t go through.

I texted it over and over again, all night, anyway.

—-

 

I had constant pain in my chest. I was sure it was my heart breaking.

It turned out to be bronchitis.

 

The investigation continued.

I was reliving the past, only the nightmarish version where you lose your child, instead of your self-respect.

One night I had such stabbing pains in my chest, they shot all the way through to my back. I couldn’t breathe.

I thought, “This is what Kurt Cobain must have felt like right before he shot himself. Utter heartbreak.”

And then I fainted outside the supermarket, and the shopping cart kid called an ambulance.

 

The stabbing pain was pneumonia.

I spent 4 days in the hospital.

I missed my son’s 10th birthday.

 

Despite that, my kid still thinks I’m pretty great. He’s upstairs, sleeping.

I’m going to go up and kiss his sleepy little head when I finish this.

CPS decided I was an okay mom, after all.

 

—-

A fleeting cyberspace connection. Meaningless.
But what if you’re brand new to the online world?
And you naively assume every virtual friendship is as valuable as its real life analogue?

On each end of the wires is a living, breathing human being with a past and a present. And an ill-timed “meaningless” encounter might shake something frighteningly loose. Something that rolls around inside of you like a stray bullet, and damages a vital organ.

Your heart, maybe.

And you bleed out.

 

 

The Internet is a Rogue’s Paradise. People act without consequence, because they can.

I shut down that blog. I wanted no part of it.

 

Obviously, this wasn’t the end of my story.

To Be Continued…

 

Have you ever had an online experience like that? Do people treat online friends differently?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter .

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78 responses to How I Lost My Mind Online: Part One

  1. 

    He called me brilliant, too.

    I know it may not be the same “he” (though it may!) but I think they’re probably all the same.

    • 

      There are gazillions of men on the Internet! It would be extremely freaky if it was the same “he.”

      Welcome to my blog, by the way, and thank you SO MUCH for reading, and commenting. xoxo

  2. 

    Tough times.
    I have experienced a similar online affliction. When my husband was deployed during 2008, I im’d a guy I’d met online almost every night for weeks. He kept me entertained in the best way. I’d be laughing hysterically for about an hour after dinner. Sadly for me, happily for him, he met a girl and if you can imagine his gall, he began spending my after dinner hour with her, doing actual interaction things.
    We’re still in contact, although those hours of laughter now fall far apart.
    He married that girl 🙂
    STILL, it was sad, the end of after dinner laughter. It left a hole I hadn’t even noticed was there before. I’d been so happy to have adult conversation, intellectual, hysterical adult conversation…

    You are a real writer. You craft fabulous stories.

  3. 

    A virtual break-up can feel just as real and hurt as much! I’ve had a couple of “he-s” that end up just being narcissistic a-holes who get bored and jump from one person to the other. You wonder what the hell you did or is wrong with you while they go on happily stroking their next victim.

    Thank goodness you still have your Little Dude with you – where he belongs! xo

    • 

      Why do they do that? Are they that desperate for validation?

      Even these days, I have friends who need a little entourage to strike their egos. It’s not my thing.
      Xoxo

  4. 

    Oh, I remember this nastiness and how many women were in the exact same boat. Such a creep.

    • 

      No, wait! This isn’t anyone that anybody knows!!!

      If you’re talking about LC, that’s Part Two of my story.
      Sadly, this story has 3 parts.
      How are we supposed to stay sane online, with all this shit going on?

      • 

        Holy, holy shit. There was one BEFORE LC? AND AFTER???

      • 

        Yep! This one happened to me when I had my first blog. About 2 weeks into blogging. This is what left me nice and ripe to meet LC.

        And what happened with LC left me completely open to the third one. It’s all connected.

        But guess what? There’s no Part 4, and there NEVER WILL BE.

        Thanks for reading, Nancy. xoxoxoxo

  5. 

    Wow, that is a pretty shitty rough patch. I’m glad you got to keep your kid at least, I would literally kill for a chance to see my kid 50/50 again. Family court is nothing but a cash grab and I didn’t have enough cash to keep playing ;(.

  6. 

    Thanks for writing this, Samara. I’ll write a follow-up on it, soon. It’s been a subject close to my heart and mind and recovery and everything else you can think of. The internet has formed much of who I am. I’m not ashamed, because technology evolves and so must WE. Dealing with the change is key and misusing this tool has ruined many lives. Making light of its impact would be iresponsible.
    Placing its importance side by side to family (our children, in particular) pales by comparison. Family always wins. Always.

  7. 

    I haven’t written about this yet (have an upcoming post planned about it, actually… although not in this vein really) but my first love was online, when I was 15 years old. Which makes me sound young… ok. whatever. But honestly, it was my only outlet, I was a really needy teenager, and this guy treated me like gold. At least – that’s what I THOUGHT. He met a girl in real life and started dating her… while stringing me along at the same time. I don’t know if there’s anything worse than being the unknown “backup” girl. But I was 15 and desperate, and he listened to me more than anyone I’d ever met. No one in my life was listening to me at that point. I was a complete sucker for him. I think online relationships can be just as real and I hate when people say they can’t. And it killed me when I lost that relationship… it took me almost a year to get over it.

    • 

      I believe in the power of online relationships. I experience some of them as strongly, if not more so, than some of my IRL relationships.

      Some people don’t.
      Do you think he would have been able to string you along in real life, too? Or did you being online make it that much easier for him to mistreat you like that?

      You know how I know online relationships are a real thing? Because just writing to you, I get that immediate “jolt’ of connection, of shared experience. I don’t have that particular shared experience with anyone in my real life. xoxoxo

      • 

        I think that relationships can be forged over the internet, but I’m not sure it’s the best place to meet my “love of a lifetime”, but then neither is a bar! I think it takes a little bit longer to figure out how sincere people are when you’re only dealing with them at a distance and not in RL.

        I was personally “ripe for the picking” after getting out of a series of abusive relationships. I’m also vulnerable because I don’t know my own value most days. And, I continue to put myself in shitty situations, because I play with fire on Twitter. My blog, not so much, as I don’t have many readers at this point and it doesn’t draw any attention.

      • 

        “Ripe for the picking” is a great way to describe how I was – each time I got sucked into bullshit online.

        I have a finely tuned radar now. Thank god

      • 

        I so agree. I’ve always been that way, maybe because my only accessibility to relationships as a teenager WAS through the internet. That was my lifeline, and I really do believe in their strength.
        Honestly… I was so naive and so hungry for love at that point that he could have strung me along. But the online aspect made it MUCH easier. He could hide most of his flirting and such with the “other girl” and keep me as the back up much more easily.
        I know what you mean. I felt that same jolt of connection when I read this post. 🙂 xoxoxo back.

  8. 

    It´s so sad when people who´s blogs I´ve been following for sometimes years, stop writing (or worse, start writing about healthy lifestyle)…don´t shut down this blog, too!
    (I always feel like a creepy person when I comment on your blog, though.)

    • 

      Why do you feel creepy commenting? Commenting is where the magic happens!

      • 

        Well, partly because you get so many comments everything got said already; it´s a little intimidating to comment on blogs with so many comments already! But I like your writing a lot so I overcome my issues haha.

  9. 

    The Internet is no different than “real life,” in that there are both wonderful and terrible people living in it. I hate the fact that you had to experience that kind of terribleness, particularly at a time of such vulnerability. But somehow these types of people pick up on those opportunities. I’m so glad to hear the conviction in your voice when it comes to denying anyone the chance to play a role in Part IV of this saga. And rest assured, Samara, your identity as a writer is validated every time you push “publish.”

  10. 

    The internet ate my first comment. *glares at the internet*
    I am sorry some douchebaggy fake got to you at a time you needed support. I hate those types.
    Dealing with CPS (they are called CYFS here in NZ) is always scary, it happened to me once about 5 years ago and it is not something I want to repeate. Ever. *hugs*
    I have internet friends (ie people I met online and haven’t met IRL (yet!)) whom I am closer to than people I see IRL and some of them I talk to every day.
    I’ve been told that I am a writer because I write, so that makes you a writer too.
    Be gentle with yourself and hug that boy of yours! I can’t wait for Sunday when I can hug my kids (they’re with their dad this week).

  11. 

    I think that you ARE a writer… What a gripping tale! Eagerly awaiting the rest of it. Xoxo

  12. 

    Boooo. I do not like that you went through all of that. I do like that you wrote this post. There’s one thing that guy was right about: you are a real writer.

    • 

      You’ve been through a lot, too, which is why we connect.

      I’ve been getting a little more aggressive with some online nonsense recently. It feels good, actually. Like a warrior, or a bitch, depending on who’s describing me.

  13. 

    I had a man like him but mine was a she, a whole group of them. I was their blogging bff and life was dandy. Then I disagreed with one of them, told them something they did was uncalled for. Then they turned on me. I felt like I was back in high school again and I’d pissed off the queen bees. It’s interesting looking back now at how insular it all was. It felt like they ran the blogging scene and yet now that I’m no longer in their favour I’ve realised that they aren’t really the big deal they lead me to believe.

    • 

      People who lead you to believe they’re a big deal rarely are.

      I know those kind of Bees; they need their asses kissed or its goodbye. I’m not great at asskissing.

  14. 

    Yes, I are a real writer. 🙂 a very good one. I’m so sorry to hear about that shitty period you went through. I just went through one as well. I guess it was just my turn.

  15. 

    I are a real writer?? Oh my. You are a real writer. 🙂

  16. 

    I’m sorry to ask this, but if you don’t mind? I’m just curious why you didn’t tell the social workers about what really happened, I mean your Ex seems kind of deserved it.

    • 

      It was a reflex, kind of like, an automatic response.

      I hid his abuse for years. It was not until much later that I made it publicly known.

      In fact, when I finally DID tell someone about it, it was a dear, dear online friend – Lizzi. We skyped and she saw me all banged up.

      And there you have the other end of the spectrum. Some online friendships are magical. ❤

      • 

        That is very brave of you. 🙂
        And I’m happy to know that that douche is out of you and your son’s life. You deserve better people, like your friend. 🙂

  17. 

    So, I was working on taking down my old “range hood” (because I “willed” it to break, because I’d much rather spend my tax refund replacing stuff that I thought I already had, and on helping to pay the mortgage on my dentist’s fancy house in the country, rather than spend my refund on bourbon, weed, hookers, and a spring trip to the Black Hills), and I must’ve gotten some dust in my eyes, because they started watering when I read about the shopping cart kid calling 911 for you. Yep, that’s how effed-up I am; your sick friend, dead uncle, CPS issues, and love for your kid didn’t affect me as much as the fact that the shopping cart kid didn’t want you to die in the parking lot.
    (Finally realized that I write long comments because then I know people will read me, because very few read my stupid blog. I would deny in court that this is a backassward way to try to get people to read my stupid blog. I feel your pain in thinking “me and writing–we don’t mix.”) Not sure if you’re a brilliant writer, Samara, but you’re pretty motherfucking good; no, that’s lame–REALLY motherfucking good, and with the unique life experiences–well, let’s just say I always look forward to notification of a new post from Samara.

    • 

      Your comments are wonderful and I always look forward to them as much as you look forward to my posts.

      Yes, the shopping cart kid saved me. There is still humanity in this world.

  18. 

    I treat online friends differently

    • 

      I don’t think I can generalize like that. It depends on the friendship.

      Some online friendships are more important and precious to me than any I have in real life. Some, not so much.

      This particular person – yes, I remember him telling me that he treated his real life friends differently than online friends. In his case, “differently” meant “better.”

      • 

        Well, I try not to be overly cruel to anyone, online or real life

      • 

        As do I.
        I have been exposed to cruelty online that would never happen to me in real life. They wouldn’t try that crap in real life, for one. And I’m much too guarded in real life.
        Now I am online, too. Live and learn.

  19. 

    I’m glad you’re writing again. For selfish reasons. stay around for me?

  20. 

    –I love my online / virtual friends. Especially the “Writers.” I’ve learned A lot from these people. ( MOSTLY, women & a few cool guys. )

    For example, that we are pretty much all CRAZY, flawed, weird, passionate, obsessive, and desire acceptance.

    Oh, and I really DIG “YOU,” darling girl. xx From MN.

    PS. NEVER stop writing!

  21. 

    There are cases when people lie on matrimonial websites building hopes and then breaking it all along with trust and self esteem.

    People act callous when they know they can get away with all nonsense.

  22. 

    Hugs. This is my cliche but we don’t become ether when we type online. I’ve seen it sincd old chatroom days. I think I have the “your ballsacks become your tonsils if you mess with me” aura. ❤

  23. 

    You are a writer. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise or make you feel otherwise. The internet can be a strange and scary place. It’s definitely full of narcissists. On the bright side, things worked out well with LD. I’m sorry you had to go through all of that! xox

    • 

      This happened over two years ago, so I came back from the experience.
      Unfortunately, I then had two more unpleasant experiences. Hence, parts 2 and 3.
      This last one nearly did me in, as far as killing my belief in myself as a writer. Maybe we can talk about it sometime.
      Thank you for always encouraging and supporting me. 💜

  24. 

    I think I remember all this happening. It wasn’t all that long ago, was it? Around the Clown era, if I’m not mistaken. Don’t be down on yourself. The internet sucks a lot of us in and we give it more attention and cred than it deserves. We just want to be loved. Is that so much to ask for?

    • 

      Wanting to be loved is exactly what led me down the rabbit hole.

      Actually, this happened before the Clown era. He’s Part Two of my series.
      There’s a part 3, and that’s it.

      I can’t believe that I was so naive!
      I guess, there’s a part of me that will always want to believe that people are being genuine. It doesn’t quite fit in with “jaded New Yorker,” does it?

      • 

        Good thing you don’t live in New York anymore! You’d be taken advantage of for sure.

      • 

        When I look at it, I realize I was much more guarded in real life. I thought online stuff couldn’t hurt me.
        I’ve since learned.

        Btw, I was in South Orange recently, and I really liked it. It had kind of a “city” vibe. I could live there.

      • 

        South Orange is awesome. Plus, it’s close to the city. But the property taxes are killer-diller. We looked at a few houses and what we saw in our price range was kind of dumpy. And we’re not poor! We’re solid middle class!

      • 

        I’m thinking of more for when my kid goes off to college. I won’t need a house. A small, 2 bedroom apartment is more like it.
        It had a fabulous artsy feel. And people walk! Also, proximity to the city. That’s key.

  25. 

    The internet is many things. One thing it is – is that we can be whoever we want to be and that can be astoundingly freeing, or it can be painfully limiting. We write for ourselves, but we also write for those we hope will reach out to us and “get it” (whatever “it” is). (I kinda borrowed this from Ned’s recent post – so credit goes to him.) I think people who are artistic are all broken in some way (myself included) and we seek validation from people who we can alternately hold at a “safe” distance and also feel “close” to. I had a bad experience online recently, and it made me very weary of accepting any more friend requests. Because those same people who seem to support you, can also tear you apart from the safety behind their “screen.” I commented a while back that I loved you, and afterward I thought – that was stupid, since you don’t know me and you might think I’m some psycho just like the bitch who went after me online, and it probably made you think, WTF?! anyway. Nevertheless, I will clarify that I love your writing style, and your fearlessness, and the fact that you rose out of the ashes and you get up every morning and LIVE. It’s inspiring. That’s what I love.

    • 

      I love you. That doesn’t make me psycho. It means something about what you commented here resonated with me deeply.

      I’m sorry about your bad online experience.

  26. 

    We are stronger than we think we are. Don’t stop writing, no matter what.

  27. 

    Here’s a happy online dating story. I met my wife in 2004. I lived in Australia, she here in Canada. We got married on 19th September 2004, ‘cos it’s been legal in Canada since then, and are still together, happy and everything. 🙂

    You are A Writer! … also one hella woman! 😀

  28. 

    Writers write because they can’t not. Write for yourself-don’t be defined by others. (Crap-I hate the way that sounds. Sorry. I was told once I come off as a condescending prick when giving any kind of advice. I don’t mean to be condescending…the other? Can’t help it.) Peace and all good things.

  29. 

    I’ve never had an online friend, but my mum has. The guy turned out to be a douche and I was so heart broken. I saw the loneliness that you describe here in my mum. In her eyes, as if she was screaming for help inside her head. She’s ok now, as I’m sure you are. Not great, but getting there.

    Ironically I am slipping now too. Difference is I’m not nearly as likeable as you are, as she is. That doesn’t make me sad, don’t fret. I just wanted to say that I know you are wonderful. Creeps always find the wonderful women, they stay well away from those like me. Keep your head up, it gets better.

  30. 

    Joy Division – She’s Lost Control (lyrics) – YouTube

    I’ve an old wooden fence. The fibrous fabric, of it’s thin silvered woven wood, defines an imaginary line of ownership. It quietly states “…this side of the line is mine…”

    Boundaries are not always so easily perceived. Even when physical delineation is made black and white.

    We are more than the contents contained within our skin. More than four pails of water and a bag full of salts.

    But you know this

  31. 

    Wow, Samara. What a tour de force. You write with such passion, I’m blown away. I wish you good things. You must already know you’re an amazing writer.

  32. 

    You know I love you. And everything that you’ve been through would break the strongest warrior. But not you. You get knocked down but you always fight your way back. Remember that. Remind yourself when you’re feeling weak or lost that you are a fucking warrior. And the next time you get down on your writing or doubt your talent, call me. I’ll remind you that you are BRILLIANT. And I mean that. ❤

  33. 

    Girl, this was so good. I am speechless at your talent and your incredible strength. ❤

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