The real honest truth
You can't help everyone.
(And if you're an Empath, as I am, you probably either thought to yourself "yes I can" or "eurgh, yup" right then.)
I'm going to share with you a part of my life which I've kept quiet about until now. I'm sharing this because other people are going through the exact same thing... literally the same, caused by the same person and on the same subject. So this might help them.
I've kept quiet because I feel that the other party in this event isn't well and they aren't in that place where they can see it yet so it would be wrong to talk about that person to anyone who listens. But that's what they are doing and pretty much everyone knows his side of his story now. He's shared it with anyone with an email address.
I'm going to start with some facts about my love life
- I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 5 years, engaged to him. I walked away from him and took with me nothing but about 40k of debt. Several years later he later died from a drug overdose before I was able to understand that I needed to forgive him for my own health.
- I got obsessed by this guy I met, not long after leaving my fiancé. we slept together a few times over 18 months and he strung me along with flirting and making me feel good. I wasn't ready for those types of games. He broke my heart and I picked at messages to try and understand where I went wrong.
- I've been with my current boyfriend for three years now and we've had our ups and down. I used to run away (escape out the house and hide for a few hours) when an argument started because I was overwhelmed and thought the argument would be like with my ex. It took learning on both ours parts to stop that from happening.
So what has this got to do with these emails?
Frankly, I've been there, I've been through a similar situation as he feels he's in, but the difference is that I didn't blame other people because I was hurting and I did realise (after a while) that it was unhealthy for me to be picking apart what had already happened. I learned I didn't need this stress and that there weren't any answers in chat logs and I moved on.
So here's my side
Marcus did the Mongol Rally, and his car broke down, being stuck in Georgia (the country) for a long time. People who were following the Mongol Rally were asking on the official page how was the Ferrari doing, a lot. I also was concerned as to where my friend was but I could follow him on Facebook and see the occasional update of "they promised me tomorrow". He'd drop in to IRC occasionally and I would intentionally ask how he was doing. I didn't care about the car. I cared about my friend being stuck in a place where he said there was no one to talk to and nothing to do. That would have been one of my worst nightmares.
I went to a chilli festival with Rupert, Sian, Lucinda and some of Lu's work mates out bristol way over the summer, August time. I got asked if I wanted to come late on a Friday evening so tipped up Saturday morning and snuck into the campsite. I didn't have a camping ticket, or an entry ticket because I had been asked to come last minute. I was happy for the invite! On the Sunday Marcus came and we all hung out together, he helped check the oil on my car (which was funny because that's why he was stuck in Georgia -- we joked) he helped me zip Lucinda in her massive tent bag, we joked more. I went home.
(let me be clear here that these dates might be wrong. None of these events for me were a big deal to me, just stuff that happened that we're all now being attacked for)
Some time in November the same group of people arranged to go ice skating. It was decided over IRC whilst at work. So a Facebook event was made and some people added and then we carried on with work to organise it better later that day.
We went ice skating and I met this girl called Kim. She had been in IRC with us a few times but we hadn't spoken to each other much. She's friends with the rest of the group and she likes gin so I knew I'd get on with her. I'm not good at ice skating but I'm not as bad as Zac. I also did my first poop in 10 days (this was a big deal for me. I had been diagnosed with Crohn's disease earlier that year and just been given medicine which blocked me up and that's why I remember it!! I joked about my ice skating fear making me poop myself! - TMI? Probably, but this is my side of this story!)
Before ice skating there were some issues because both Marcus and Kim we're invited and Kim thought that would be awkward. Apparently Marcus liked her and she didn't feel the same way. Others in the group had told him that they should just be friends and hangout and come along ice skating. This is really the first I had heard of all this, but it does explain some things I noticed in IRC like Marcus perking up when she arrived. Marcus didn't come ice skating. Kim did. This is the only time I have met her.
I had made a Facebook event for a winter BBQ just before Christmas. I was having at my house, I went to invite all the usual people. Lu, Ru, Glenn, Marc... oh we aren't friends any more. Uh ok. I'm hurt. I don't know why but maybe he's just not on Facebook anymore. I think nothing more of it. I'll try and catch him on IRC.
Close to Christmas, I was sat eating my dinner with my boyfriend, Eastenders was on. My phone rang, it was Marcus. We had been friends for a long time and the only other time he had rung me was when he couldn't find the door to the pub in Amsterdam. I knew something was wrong. I walked away from my dinner and listened to what he had to say. I was happy he rang because then I didn't have to watch Eastenders.
(And this is where the order of things really get blurred)
He started the call asking if there was a Facebook chat conspiring against him. Because me and Jo(e) would come online at the same time a lot. I had to ask if they were male or female as I don't know many Jo(e)s and none that he would know.
I told him he was being irrational and explained how cron jobs work (the best I could!) and that the green dot on Facebook doesn't mean a damned thing.
The conversation was long and mostly him talking, he gave me the whole of the story between him and Kim, with dates, figures, and GPS locations. When I did say something he'd interject. I gave my opinion and he didn't like the answer. I told him about the guy I was obsessed over and said his story sounded similar... except he hadn't got that close to Kim and it was over much less time. He then attacked Ru and Lu for saying he needed to back off Kim. I agreed and he got angry. I shouted because he was being hypocritical, slagging them off behind their backs and hung up. Before I had the chance to walk back to my now cold dinner and annoyed boyfriend he had rung back. Desperate to talk to me more. I told him I wasn't interested and couldn't help him. The second phone call wasn't as long because now I was angry and it was getting late. I didn't want to deal with him.
I gave my opinion and he didn't like the answer.
Maybe the next day or so he apologised for why he blocked me. I invited him to my BBQ, told him to come with Ru and just take a break from it all and relax in front of a campfire with a burger or two.
He came to the BBQ with Ru and Sian. It was a little awkward at first but we ended up having a good night. And didn't mention Kim.
Then there was the emails. Firstly I was just CC'd into ones that were already happening between Ru and Lu and then I started to get some directly. I told him yet again that he needed ato get over it. My responses were one liners... I couldn't be dealing with all he was writing, it was always in the same vain as the previous. He wouldn't answer my questions or even ask about me. Just straight into a rant. Eurgh!
(I hope you're all still with me, even I'm bored writing this now!!)
I told him to stop emailing me. His emails were making me angry, upset and stressed. I didn't need that in my life. Stress makes my crohn's flare up. I told him if he contacted me about it again I would go to the police.
I went to Drupalcon Barcelona and he was there. I did my best to avoid him. Apart from one night where Glenn (who up until this point hadn't had to deal with this) decided we should all go to the beach bar and just be friends. I was happy to do this, even if it were awkward to start with. It was ok. Marcus told everyone his stories of gryocopting training for a new adventure and showed us the hole in his leg. I kept my distance as I didn't know how to react really and I got in the sea with Rachel and Emma. Next thing I see is Marcus in his pants jumping in too... we all tried not to die for a bit (have you ever been in the sea in Barcelona? It's hard work!)
I got out and dressed and sat with others at the bar. Greg got a phone call on this crazy old phone and was off somewhere for dinner with a client. I joked with him about using google maps on his phone to get there and he left. I then put the feelers out to order some food. A bunch of us ordered burgers. And suddenly marcus collapsed against my shoulder and said he was leaving. He was drunk and he crossed that line where everything has got too much. Plus he was blue from being freezing cold. He kinda stumbled past me and left. Glenn followed him. They spoke by the edge of the beach for a long time. So long that we complained to the staff where our food was, got it, ate it, watched Glenn's get cold, tried not to eat Glenn's, ate Glenn's and ordered him a new one and asked three times where it was. he got back just after that... stressed and in need of a burger. Sorry we ate it Glenn, but at least you had a hot one!! Plus Emma needed to soak up some alcohol.
Glenn was shattered from talking to him. I told him that's how I've felt and we left it there.
February I get an email from Marcus. It's not one asking how I am or catching up but it's a continuation from the emails sent before drupalcon... picking apart replies line by line... calling me dishonest and saying we're all bad people. I tell him I'm going to the police like I said I would and he obviously gets defensive but then he makes me snap. He wrote this:
"And I thought that you, of all people, would defend others who were subject to the sort of abuse that you’ve gone through before.
But instead, you joined in."
WHAT THE FUCK? He wasn't being abused by anyone other than himself. He tried to make me feel like shit just to get me to agree with him. He tried to manipulate me, use my darkest moments against me, to get me to sympathise.
That is EXACTLY what my ex used to do, he put me exactly back into the place where my ex kept me.
I turned to my boyfriend who could see that broken woman was instantly back just by reading something on her phone. I could see it in his face that he was worried he'd have to spend the next few hours trying to find me because that dark place had got me again.
But this time I remembered my promise to myself. I will not let anyone treat me like my ex did, ever again.
So I rang the police. I made a statement. I took time off work to go to Bristol and make a written statement. Victim impact statements... victim... again. Gah!
I told the police that I'd be happy for him to apologise but that he has to know he's doing wrong. I was mostly concerned with his wellbeing and very upset that I had to be at a police station all because of what sounded like school playground drama of a girl not liking a boy.
The police spoke to him and said he doesn't believe he has done anything wrong. So I pushed it to the next stage and the next and then next. Then one week before drupalcon, before I'm set to give a talk about my life, I'm due to go to court and read out my statement against my friend... gah!
I could have spoken about Marcus at Drupalcon. I've learned a lot about myself from this, it's proved to me that I'm stronger than ever and that it's okay to not help everyone. That putting yourself first sometimes is a good idea. But I didn't, I left him out of it, because people knew him, damn he could have even been in the room... I wasn't going to do that to him.
But he pleaded guilty and got off easy. I haven't heard from him but a lot of people have. A lot of close mutual friends are having to put up with this. I know because they've told me that they are worried about him.
Random people have told me they are worried and want to help and each time I say that I don't think there is anything anyone other than him that can fix this. I warn them they might be getting into something they will find hard to get out of and I let them decide on what to do next.
All of these people have heard my opinion on helping him and chosen their own path in helping or not. Not one of them has attacked me because of my opinion, unlike Marcus has done over my opinion of Kim.
It sucks that my friend is like this, that he feels everyone is against him and he can't see what is real and what isn't but what more can I do? What more should we do?
So yes, this is my side of all those emails you have received. I am sorry you have been dragged into this and I wish Marcus all the best but I wash my hands of this, for my own health.