A friend reached out to me and asked me if I was familiar with a certain woman’s name. I did not recognize it. She was harassing my friend, making false accusations about me and calling Steve a big baby and making light about suicide in social media.
Sadly, it is a sign of the times; people make false accusations and bully others as they cowardly type their vitriol on a keyboard with no substantiated proof or rhyme or reason for their actions. I cannot fathom their cruelty or motivations, but can only pity them.
There was a time not too long ago when words like those from this woman would have crushed me. In the last two years of Steve’s life, people would attack him and/or myself on social media and it pained me so much, both for the unkind things said about me, even more so what was said about Steve since it exacerbated his suffering and mental anguish. As recently as June 2016, I was lambasted in social media and it reduced me to sobs that someone could be so wrong and so cruel.
Now, when my friend told me what this person said about us, I did not get upset. It is only words from an unhappy person who probably knows nothing about myself, my friend or Steve. All I can say is shame on her for judging us, not walking a mile in our shoes and for her lack of compassion. I seem to be finally able to put things into perspective. What can meaningless accusations from a stranger do to me? After all, I have survived cancer, the suicide of my soul mate and a diagnosis of an incurable, progressive disease.
I am just a 62 year old woman trying to figure out my purpose in life, Steve is no longer here and my friend is doing the best he can do to make a positive difference in his fellow veterans’ lives. What purpose is served by attacking us? In Steve’s case, perhaps she should read Slipped Away to educate herself about the struggles of mental illness and suicide and to also see all the wonderfully kind words from athletes around the world (including triathlon legends)said about Steve. All those people could not possibly be wrong. Sad to say, for someone like this woman, it probably wouldn’t change her opinion, but my goal is to educate as many people as I can about mental illness and suicide, with the end result perhaps being that someone could re-read what this woman said and just shake their heads in sadness and disgust at ‘man’s inhumanity to man’.
For the first time in my life I feel I am strong enough to handle someone saying what she said, even if she chose to say it to my face. I cannot promise I wouldn’t cry, but I do know I could stand up to this bully and any others that try to deface me, Steve or the work my friend and I are trying to accomplish. However, as it is with most bullies, she probably wouldn’t have the courage to look me in the eye and say what she wrote on social media.
As my friend always says, “we are a team” and as Steve would always say, “there is no’ I’ in team”. We will stand shoulder to shoulder and we will continue on in our mission no matter how much we are falsely maligned and accused.