I was so excited and happy when my little corner of the internet started to grow. I had an amazing group of commenters, other book bloggers, and authors that I had the privilege of interacting with. I felt accepted and liked for being the giant book nerd I am. Then it slowly started to go downhill, and then it just tumbled off of the fucking cliff.
It started with two commenters. These “gentlemen” would pop into the comments and tell me why my opinion was wrong, that there was no way that I actually read all of the books I was reviewing, and once I started blocking them they’d email me to tell me that I was an ugly bitch. So super fun times. Then I had a few other random people comment in about how I was greedy for asking for ARC’s, and that it wasn’t fair as they didn’t get them. Not pure hate like the first two, but not great either.
I started deleting posts and pictures. Every comment was moderated. Every post rewritten and deleted multiple times before it was posted, and then continually edited over the next few days. I just checked and the average number of edits on a post from this time period was 30. 30 edits for every single post for over three months.
Then I had three authors get quite upset over the reviews I gave their books. One just emailed me a nasty diatribe on my lack of knowledge and my obvious incompetence and they included a threat to blacklist me from their publisher. Then about a month later and within the same damn week, the other two authors struck. They commented back on my Goodreads reviews with their displeasure, they started following my blog, my Twitter, and my Facebook, and they reported my Amazon reviews as abusive/fake. Again, this happened in the same week. I swear there is a site somewhere telling authors how to scare a book blogger. (The best part, all three reviews were three stars, not one or two stars, but a generic three star.)
I was holding on as best I could as I had commitments to authors, publishers, and PR companies. But then the real life stuff kicked into overdrive and I just couldn’t do it anymore. Reading was no longer fun and so I just stopped reading.
I have vaguely mentioned on some posts that I have an autoimmune disease. I also have OCD, ADD, GAD, and depressive issues. I have a family that I want to spend time with, and at that time I worked in a position where a 60 hour work week was a slow week for me.
That position was amazing for me. I was promoted to a C-level position at 37. I won awards for my work on the local and national level. I had some of the best people that I have ever met as my direct reports, my CEO was my mentor and my friend. It was a dream job in all but one thing. That one thing was one of the other executive staff who was angry that they had been there for a year longer than I had been, but I was promoted above them even though we had vastly different jobs and skill sets.
This person began a strategic strike against me. They had their staff go around the office asking others to “What do you hate about Laura? We’re going to report her.” I had my staff in my office crying about this. I was constantly being pulled from my job duties by this person for “important meetings” where no one else would show up. They put grooming and body care items in my box and on my desk. They brought me clothes as “looser clothes are always more flattering on heavy girls”. They had their best friend (who was a committee member for one of our volunteer groups) send an email to all of the staff, all of the other committee members, and our board stating that my visible tattoos were extremely offensive and that something needed to be done about me. They would call me on weekends to yell at me about tiny issues, and barricade themselves in my office for hours to tell me how they were going to help me be better. The best was when we would have a one-on-one meeting and they would tell me “We cannot do that thing, and I will tell everyone I will not do it.”. Then in the group meeting they would say “Of course we will do the thing. I told Laura that I was happy to take it on and she agreed with me.”.
It got to the point that I was having panic attacks at my desk. I would cry every day on the way into and from work. If this person called my cell after hours I would sit paralyzed in my home for hours worried that they would come find me as I hadn’t answered. I had dreams that they ran me over in their car or stabbed me in my office. I would drive home and try to figure out what tree to drive into so that I didn’t hurt anyone else, but would ensure I was gone.
Side note – If you’ve never heard of gaslighting do a quick Google. It is astounding what another person can do to you with just words.
I tried to quit my job four times over a three month period, but my boss would always convince me to stay. It just kept getting worse. But then my boss decided to retire so I finally had an out. I just needed to wait for five more months. I finally left a week after the new boss started. I didn’t have another position lined up, I just needed out.
The commenter and author stuff happened in the later half of 2016. The work stuff was the majority of 2017. I left my job in February of 2018. I found my amazing therapist in July of 2018. I started my own company six days after I left my job. I started reading again about two months ago.
I plan on slowing getting back into my reviews. Maybe only one or two a month a first, but I’ve been finding myself missing it and the community that was so amazing. I don’t know if anyone is still around, but if you are, thank you. And thank you friend for reaching out, here is the update I promised you.