Two years ago, in August, I made the conscious decision to remove a toxic, manipulative individual from my life. This person and I had a decades long “friendship”.
This relationship, of course, didn’t start out as the godawful, soul-crushing, gaslighting nightmare that it became. If it had, I would have run the fuck in the opposite direction. Even I, Brightside Barbie, doomed to look for the best in everyone, would have said, “Nope!” and kept on moving.
A few weeks ago, Jenny Trout, one of my utterly amazing BFFs, stumbled across some shadyass Vaguebooking about me and snapped. The results of this were five blog posts that detailed years of emotional abuse at the hands of the individual I jettisoned from my life. Jen was pissed. And while she may not always stand up to defend herself, she’ll defend the fuck out of the people she loves and the ideals she believes in. I didn’t ask her to write those posts. She did it because she felt it was the right thing to do. Very much like what I’m doing here.
If you’ve never dealt with an emotionally abusive manipulative person – or if you’re not the type to to get conned by them – that’s awesome. *high fives you*
If you have, like so many of the people who’d commented on Jen’s posts, then you know how incredibly insidious and harmful these people can be. You know that the gaslighting techniques they employ can break you the fuck down until you begin to doubt everything around you—even your own thoughts. Hell, especially your own thoughts. I won’t go into all the gory details about how this works. That’s not the point of this post. There are tons of great resources out there if you find yourself in a relationship like this. This blog is a great place to start. But please be aware, those of you who’ve dealt with these sorts of relationships may find it triggering.
But to illustrate just how damaging this behavior can be, I’d like to share something. About five or six months after I was no longer speaking to the person Jen wrote about, my husband, who’s known me since I was 15 fucking years old, looked at me and said, “There you are. I’ve been missing my girl, and I didn’t know how to find her.” That broke my goddamn heart.
The reason I’m sharing this is because now that Jen has chosen to remove the five posts detailing the wild ride that was our life with this toxic person, there are readers out there who are upset. Some are upset because they didn’t get to read the last installment before they were all unpublished. Some were upset because they feel that Jen isn’t standing by her convictions by keeping the posts up. Some were upset because those posts that detailed this person’s behavior could have “real world consequences” for that person.
I get that it’s frustrating to be really into something and find it entertaining and never be able to see the conclusion. But good news, it’s cached out there somewhere, folks. But I understand internet caches as well as I understand imaginary numbers and algebra, so…I’m not the person to help you out with that.
To those who feel like Jen isn’t standing by her convictions, let me tell you what those posts accomplished for the two of us. And probably for Carol, too. Having those experiences laid out before the cold, unblinking eye of the internet did something amazing. It gave us both the courage to admit that this shit actually happened. This is the shit that shitty people do to others under the guise of friendship. It gave other people who’ve experienced similar shit solidarity recognition and understanding. It gave Jen and I those things, too. But when Jen unpublished those posts, it gave us both something more. It gave us the feeling of finally being fucking free.
No matter what Jen and I have accomplished professionally, even after this person was no longer in our lives, those accomplishments were always tainted with the remnants of her voice in our heads and the echoes of her words in our ears. Trying to explain how detrimental that is in a way that someone who hasn’t been through this shit can understand would take months, and TBH, I’m not willing to to devote any more headspace to this person than she’s already had.
But, what I would love for you to understand is that really talking about these things, getting them all out of our heads, and then flushing them, finally felt like we were free of it all. That the garden of self-doubt that this person planted in our heads and carefully tended had finally gone fallow. I wish I could somehow translate our happiness sense of wellbeing to everyone to provide a glimpse of how amazingly beautiful and freeing that felt. For the first time, I was no longer worried about running into this person at the grocery store—a likely prospect since we live so close to one another. Just the realization that I wasn’t afraid of running into her in public was huge. That’s just one example of the power of releasing this.
So for those of you who felt like Jenny wasn’t standing by her convictions, I realize there’s nothing I can do to convince you otherwise. But I hope you’ll consider that choosing to unpublish the posts wasn’t about convictions. It was about freedom from something that’s haunted both of us for years. Basically exorcising a demon—minus the priest and the holy water.
And finally, for those concerned about the real world consequences those posts may have had, I have a question. Why are the real world consequences of income loss more important than the real world consequences of having one’s mental health maliciously chipped away for over a decade? I’m not sure how money is the most important thing here. Sometimes there are consequences for being a horrible person. Sometimes those consequences involve people no longer wanting to read your work.
Additionally, some people may not have a problem if a homophobe profits by writing MM romances. Some people have a huge problem with it and would prefer to vote with their dollars.
Like most writers, the written word is my and Jen’s medium for figuring out our shit—both reading and writing. Sure, we talk a lot, too. But like many writers, I think we process better through reading and writing. I don’t know how Jen felt writing them, but I know that reading them felt like amazing therapy.
One of the things I love and admire most about Jen is that what you see is literally what you get. There’s no public persona—there’s just Jen. And I will be forever grateful to her for standing up for me, and more than that, helping me stand up for myself.
0 thoughts on “PSA on Jenny Trout's Catharsis”
I love you two so much!!!! You and Jen are amazing human beings I am so proud to call friends. And, if someone has some kind of complaint or whatever, tell them to go to hell. You’re here for you and taking care of yourself has to be a number one priority.
I don’t know why figuring out that we need to take care of ourselves is so damn difficult. *HUGS*
Well done for both of you. I’m so happy you’re both coming out of this, Bronwyn. ((hugs))
You and me both, Siobhan! 🙂 *HUGS*
*hugs Bron with tears streaming* Did you see my comment on Jenny’s post today? I thanked her for reminding me that disposing of what was written is as important as writing it. Yep! Been there. Still working through it. And though I knew on some level I should destroy those letters and journal entries, I still have them. ALL of them. Dating back to high school.
Ironically, today is the birthday of the toxic person who was in my life the longest. A good day to get busy destroying all those journals and maybe finally letting go and becoming free.
I am so proud of you and Jenny and thank you both from the bottom of my heart. You have given me light and hope that I too, may find freedom.
*HUGS you so hard* I hope when you burn them, it’s the most freeing thing ever for you. Letting people like that take up space in our heads and hearts is almost as detrimental as the abuse itself. I’m looking forward to cleared headspace for all of us. *HUGS you some more*
Reading this made me really, really happy. I think it was great to write it and great to delete it.
Thanks, Pickle! I’m feeling worlds better! I love you!
I finally get to say what I couldn’t during the drama of the oughts—about fucking time. I’m so proud of the journey you and Jen made. See—a button just came loose. Carry on, my noble friends, carry on.
God, it was so far past time. I, apparently, take longer than most to figure out my shit. So I’m heartily seconding the “about fucking time”! 😀
After what I read, I think the holy water might have helped a little ;D
Why are the real world consequences of income loss more important than the real world consequences of having one’s mental health maliciously chipped away for over a decade?
I saw a couple comments about that and couldn’t quite put into words my reaction. This is exactly what I felt. Why does her bank account matter more than your emotional health? Additionally, the fact that she’s a vocal homophobe who profits – even in a small way – from writing M/M romance or erotica is beyond low.
I’m glad you all were able to distance yourselves from her.
You know, I should probably start carrying around vials of holy water…just in case. 😀
And thank you, I’m SO glad we’re out of that particular hell hole.
I’m so glad you and Jen have such a tight friendship. It’s so awesome to see women banding together and sticking up for each other, instead of tearing each other down. You guys rock! 🙂
I’m so grateful for our friendship. I really dislike that aspect of our culture where women are basically groomed to see one another as competition.
I know. I hate it, too. Let’s start a movement, Bronwyn. Let’s start empowering each other. What do you say?
I am SO in. 😀
Awesome! Now all we have to do is come up with a plan! 🙂 Any ideas?
I’m so glad you two are free from that. I had a similar (slightly less dramatic) version of this in college, and wow, it seriously screwed with my head. I had nightmares for like a year afterward. Actually, I saw a photo of this girl’s family on FB randomly last week and had a horrible dream about her and her mother. I broke off contact almost five years ago.
And that freedom? It’s come to me in increments. But how sweet it is. I don’t have to fear redheads in the grocery store anymore. And maybe soon I won’t have a nightmare after seeing a family photo online.
Congratulations for achieving an emotional Mt. Everest!
I’m so, so sorry you’ve had such an awful experience, too. It’s amazing (and scary) how deep into our minds that kind of abuse takes root. I feel you on the nightmares. I have one every once in awhile, and they’re just awful. I hope that you’ll eventually be free of yours.
Also, I love the phrase “emotional Mt. Everest! 😀
A possible real world consequence would be an internet witch hunt. They happen, they spiral out of control, and they’re very, very ugly. It’s potentially a lot more serious than “income loss.”
Yeah, it probably won’t come to that. There probably won’t be any disproportionate and terrifying consequences for Erika. Or for an unrelated person with a similar name. Probably.
Look, I’m not unsympathetic to you guys, Jenny and Bronwyn. I really am sorry that you suffered from your association with a toxic person, and I understand how very serious and long-lasting the effects can be. The catharsis that you’ve both experienced is important, and I’m so glad for you that you’re feeling better about the whole thing.
The likely consequences of the not-so-blind item: a few people speak badly of Erika, a few decide not to buy her books. Soon, the whole thing is mostly forgotten. But when Jenny decided to write that series of posts, and when she named Erika, she risked kicking off an internet witch hunt. Don’t pretend she didn’t.
Hey Crystal, thanks for stopping by and weighing in. You’ve made an important point. I don’t think a witch hunt was something either of us had considered. Nor is something we’d want for this person or anyone else. While I’m relieved and happy to be done with that person and portion of my life and to have released years of pain, I don’t wish her ill. I hope she figures out how to be happy in her own life. And obviously that includes a huge lack of witch hunt.
You and Jen encouraged me to blog about my own experience. Not directly, I mean by your example. I admit, I was scared of looking like I was banging on about old news, that people would tell me to “Get over it!” but it was a relief to hit that publish button last night. Okay, technically the early hours of the morning.
The key for me is being believed. For people to say “It’s okay to feel angry at the betrayal you experienced.” Too many people in the erom industry advocate “Be nice,” which is code for sit down, know your place, don’t rock the boat. Well funny how that doesn’t apply to what goes on behind the scenes. It appears to be that you can be a bitch on wheels in secret, but your PUBLIC persona mustn’t cause any ructions because it might make certain people look bad.
Sorry, I’m ranting on your blog. I should restrict it to my own! We’ve been through similar experiences so I know YOU know there’s no time limit to “just deal with it”. Being told not to be angry or bitter only serves to increase anger and bitterness. It just means the other person doesn’t want to hear it, doesn’t want to know. Doesn’t want to acknowledge your truth.
There’s a hell of a lot of bitterness and backstabbing in the erom industry and no-one gets to tell me how to fix what someone else broke.
Luckily, there are a lot of cool people too. You and Jen are two of ’em. 😀
You can rant wherever you like, hon. The “be nice” directive is exhausting and can be wildly unhealthy. I do tend to walk away from things when I can. For me, it’s unhealthy to sit and dwell on negative experiences. However, there are some things that will eat you alive and speaking your truth helps to release the bullshit so you *can* move on. It’s a necessary part of the process. Keeping it bottled up just taints everything else, too. Often, speaking your truth means moving on from the people who tell you to get over it. Like you said, no one gets to fix something someone else broke and no one gets to tell you what *your* best course of action is. *HUGS*
Wow! I missed it all. But know that I love you and I am soooooo glad you are empowering yourself and breaking free of the remaining hold. So proud of you and Jenny for moving on and getting healthy! xoxo
I love you, too, honey. *Massive Hugs*