6 Life Lessons I Learned From Stalkers, Bullies and Haters

Let’s talk about haters. Yours, and mine.

First, we have to look at our biggest critics.

Ourselves.

Make no mistake…We all do it: that little voice in us that questions our abilities, our talents, our strengths and our gut feelings.

“What if I am not good enough? What if I am not smart enough? What if I make a fool of myself? What if I am wrong?”

That voice is one hell of a loud sunofabeeyotch, isn’t it?

I’ve had my fair share of self doubt in this book-writing process. “What if I don’t give this book the justice it deserves? What if I don’t get the agent I want on the first try? What if a publisher doesn’t like it? Can I really face that kind of rejection?”

Self doubt invades the best of us. Some of us get over it; yet others don’t.

Why is that?

Ninety-nine percent of humans let that self doubt fester at some point in our lives. (That’s a made-up statistic, by the way, but I am guessing I am not far off in my calculations.)

So what happens when this self doubt is fed by outside forces? What happens when you have been unjustly criticized, judged, or accused of atrocities that would never have crossed your mind in a million years, let alone have the heart to carry out?

Why, as women, do we do this to ourselves or to others? Why, as caregivers, are we subject to such hate and criticism from others?

We scream to the heavens (and in our showers, to wash the tears away) “Why can’t they see me for what I am?!?”

Instead, we need to be asking ourselves, “Why do people have to be asshats, anyway?”

Introducing: My haters and stalkers.

A few years ago I was in what I call my “angry” period after my husband’s injury. I wasn’t angry with him; rather, I was angry with everyone that criticized us as a result.

When we remarried in 2005, I didn’t dare tell anyone. I knew for a fact our decision to remarry would be frowned upon by friends and family alike. There was no big wedding, no dress, no reception, no honeymoon. There weren’t even any rings.

We didn’t care what anyone thought, but we sure didn’t need the drama if we could prolong the inevitable. All we knew is that it was right for US. We stayed silent and went about our lives.

Trust me, they figured it out soon enough, and all hell broke loose.

One of my so-called friends told me the only thing I should be doing with my husband was ‘shoving that Purple Heart up his ass.”

Nice, huh?

Not too long after that in 2006, I had an online group stalk me and my family in the most cruel and unusual ways.  Guess what? They still do it to this day. Their justification is that my husband was ‘stealing their hard-earned tax dollars’ by getting government benefits. They dubbed as as ‘deadbeats’ by milking a system that they failed to understand we paid into in the first place.

I predict they will rejoice when he is dead and gone. I am not kidding.

They went through a lot of trouble to stalk us. They texted my under-aged son, telling him that I was cheating on his father. They tracked down where I lived and said in a veiled threat on their website, “The nearest hospital is 80 miles away. I wonder how long it will be before something happens and they can’t collect any more benefits?” The lies they spread about us were horrific. They clearly crossed the lines of harassment and defamation of our good character.

Who the hell has that much free time to obtain information about us like phone numbers of our minor children, physical addresses, and MapQuesting the nearest hospital locations?

Freaky people do.

I first ignored it, but they still continued. The fact I ignored it made it escalate. They were baiting me, and they knew me to be one who didn’t go down without a fight.

Then when I did take the bait, it only fed them even more.

Bad idea.

I did reverse the equation after one of them started impersonating me online in 2008, creating a blog that I supposedly authored. Due to my sheer tenacity and fueled by anger, I got really good at stalking back using the same tactics they used on me. I identified this impersonator in real life – then created a blog that quoted all his threats and identified him by name for the things he was doing to our family.

I even got access to a “private” section of their website to print off 104 pages of evidence of their collective stalking efforts.

I exposed him, and the entire group was pissed that I outsmarted them.

A few of them likely got boners over all this attention, especially one woman who shall remain nameless. This woman even calls her own mother an “attention whore”.  I left the site and told them as much, and what I would do if they contacted me or my family again.

Bad idea.

Her signature line is dedicated real estate to this day for a quote that another board member/leader said to me online:

Classic comment from Urbi to a poster who said they were leaving:

“Once again, we note that your threats are hollow and you come across like a sad, lonely blowhard.

I doubt anyone here gives a shit about you.  We pretty much all know that you are a vile and unethical parasite of a human being with an abnormal craving for attention.”

{Right about now some of you are probably thinking, “Wow, the Shannon’s must be pretty bad people to attract all this negative attention.” – Seriously, there is a point to share all this negativity with you. Keep reading.}

Naturally, I contacted the authorities about the veiled threats and harassment that came afterward. Since nothing was ever said to CLEARLY threaten our lives, there was nothing we could do. Then I retained a very good (and very expensive) internet defamation attorney. I handed all the evidence over to him. I had a strong case.

I still do.

One more-recent post on their site says I am “Still Pimping For Her Ex, Current, Ex, Current, Disabled Old Man” after I published this article in the Huffington Post titled “Most Americans Want To Support Troops, They Just Don’t Know How”

How they came to that conclusion after reading that article is beyond me. Their line of thinking was just so bizarre!

(More on that in a minute….)

Add to that drama, I had family members calling CPS because of my husband’s diagnosis of PTSD. Never mind the fact that I assured everyone that he was not a threat to me or anyone else, they were certain I was in danger. If anything, I was a danger to myself for being so damned angry with all the unnecessary criticism and intrusions in our life. They were the ones who were supposed to help us, not hurt us!

We passed with flying colors through FIVE child protective service investigations. That still didn’t convince them. They manipulated our oldest child into believing that their homes were better than ours, so in an act of desperation we allowed him to go live elsewhere just to make it all STOP for a change.

They let our son quit school. I found out a month after the fact, despite the frequent calls we made to check on how he was doing. It apparently ‘slipped’ their minds to remember to tell us.

One day in an act of decency to call and check on them and be civil, I was talking about my day in trying to find where I put the children’s birth certificates.  Not thinking, my mother let it slip that she had copies of our children’s birth certificates already in her possession.

I already had copies somewhere in my files, so why did she need them – let alone have them? What stories did she have to tell to convince the vital records departments that she even had a legal right to obtain them without our permission in the first place?

It was clear to me they were not going to stop until all our children were in their possession.

At one point in 2009, my father told me that my husband was the worst thing that happened to me and he “ruined my life.”

I told him he wasn’t allowed to call back until he was willing to treat my husband with the respect and dignity he deserved.

We didn’t talk for two years.

Add to that, we lived right across the street from my sinister-in-law. My in-laws were already on a massive campaign of their own, vilifying me as the devil himself. (Try living across the street with that every day!) My SIL would come in unannounced at all hours of the day or night, startling my husband in the process. She didn’t care if we were naked in bed…she’d prance in our room at 6am to convince my husband it was in his best interest to go ‘party’ at her house. You see, at her house the party never ended.

She pulled his credit reports, and mine, and applied for a home without our knowledge so she could help her best friend unload her house on us. She ‘pre-approved’ us through her realtor for a home we didn’t even want! How she got our Social Security numbers is still a mystery to me.

There were some SERIOUS boundary issues going on.

Add to that, the wounded warrior community turned into a shitfest of petty nonsense of its own. We were accused of ‘stripping benefits’ from others more deserving than we, despite the fact we participate in very few warrior events and insist that others be chosen instead. (FYI, by receiving benefits, you aren’t ‘stripping’ anything from anyone else, period.) Strangely enough, a wife with two homes that she didn’t even have to pay for accused us of being jealous of her for getting a free home (or two)…HUH?  The reality is, we chose to move here and pay for our home. When I pointed that out, she moved on to say we were being ‘greedy’ for getting help with installing a new well so we could have water for our family in this home.

I guessed she didn’t have water problems and was just looking for anything to pick a fight.

She was just hateful and mean. Just like everyone else.

Last week I was contacted by a wounded warrior’s wife who was on a smear campaign against a nonprofit I recommend here on this blog. She asked me if I had ever heard of them, and would I help her ‘expose’ them for fraud.

She made these accusations up, every bit of it. When I went on the defense of the nonprofit, she turned her attention to discrediting me. She went as far as messaging anyone she would find via my Facebook wall, telling them what a horrible person I am. And, if those people didn’t reply, she’d message them again. Between her harassment of my friends and me, I finally had to block her ass.

Now I see post after post from wives who are dealing with criticism. Some are doubting their gut instincts. Others are getting chastised for ‘milking the system’ or ‘playing a sympathy card’ for getting care for their wounded warrior. Others are engaged in drama in their own lives, taking the bait from their friends or family…spinning their wheels trying to defend themselves.

What the fuck*, people!

This is not everything, of course, but for the sake of the length of this blog post I am just sharing a FEW of the highlights. You’ll have to buy our book when it is finally published to hear the rest of the story.

Part of me feels a little bit like road dumplings for rehashing this again. You see, I’d rather not dwell on these things. However, there’s a lesson to be learned here, and I happen to know that some of you are still going through that self-discovery process. We all are.

Here’s what has happened since:

  • We are still married. Happily.
  • I have let go of many friends and brought in better ones. Lots of them.
  • My stalker asshat community no longer has an audience. And, I know I can make their life miserable with one call to my attorney. They just aren’t worth my time.
  • We no longer have a relationship with some of my family, and most of his. Our lives have never been more peaceful.
  • My father told me last month: “I am proud of you. You raised your children well.” I guess some people do change.
  • Our son came back home, graduated and is now serving in the US Army. Infantry, just like his Dad.
  • I use the “Unfriend” and “Block” features liberally on Facebook.

I think it’s time I share what all these haters, bullies and stalkers have taught me:

Rule #1: Don’t try to win over the haters. You are not the jackass whisperer.

There is something to be said about people who are like that, and on purpose. Perhaps they were raised to be that way; judgmental, critical and mean. Perhaps they surround themselves in a quagmire of negativity and have to spill it out in some way to avoid spontaneous combustion. Perhaps they are just asshats and like being that way.

You know her (or him). She’s at the ready with a smug I told you so with even the hint of a not-so-stiff breeze. She knows exactly what you did wrong and can’t wait to hold it over your head because, quite frankly, she knows everything. What’s best for you, what’s not, where you should buy your clothes, why you simply must eat organic veggies, how many children you should have — I told you. She knows everything.

But she’s an asshole about it. And she makes you feel like an asshole if you deign to make a decision that doesn’t agree 102.8% with her nebulous source of expertise.

These type of people are assholes and I’ll venture to guess that they want to impale you on their pointy fingers as a source of offense.  The assholes beat us down and take a strange sense of joy in our defeat. And they’ll always be assholes.

Others project themselves, their fears, their broken character, their deepest secrets…on to you.  Simply put: you have something they want, or you are someone they want to be.

File them away. They need to go.

Rule #2:  Know who ‘Those People’ are.

You know who ‘Those People’ are but you keep letting them hang around. You delude yourself into thinking that they lift you up. What they really do is pop in when it’s convenient for them. When they need something. Because you make them feel good. And they take. And take. And take.

They take your time, your heart, your emotional strength and they keep them all for themselves. They hide behind the guise of cheer and good intention, when what they truly are is a thief.

They are replaceable and take up room in your day and heart of which they are not worthy.

And they, too, need to go. You tell Those People…nothing…because they haven’t earned your attention

Rule #3: Let kindness in.

Quit shoving kindness aside in favor of the things that do you no good and only tear you down. Kindness deserves more credit. Kindness will always cut you slack when you can’t find any to cut for yourself.

Some people change, some people don’t. Think about the people you love the most. Sometimes they will fail. Sometimes they will let you down. Sometimes they will disappoint you. You can still love them. You can give them chances.

The trick is to give yourself the same kind of generosity.

Rule #4: Don’t let others know us better than we allow ourselves to know us.

Your opinions matter. The only thing that matters is what is best for you or your situation. You know yourself better than anyone else. Striving for perfection to please others is like trying to keep the Titanic afloat by bailing water with a bucket. We aspire to perfection but it’s a bit of an asshole and no one invites it to pool parties.

There isn’t an Eminem video on this planet that can give an ass kicking like this video can. You’ll understand why perfection is a bit of an asshole after watching it:

Know yourself, and let the opinions of others take a long walk off a short pier.

Rule #5: Criticism doesn’t mean you did something wrong; it could be because you are doing something right.

You haven’t made your mark until you’ve created enemies. It means you are doing something right, even if you did it wrong the first time around. The people who sling shit at you like a feral bunch of zoo monkeys likely have never tried, let alone did, what you’ve already done.

Embrace your faults. Learn from your mistakes. Be authentic. Know what makes you laugh, cry or vomit.

Own it.

Not everyone’s going to like you, what you do, or what you love. You need to put on your Big Girl Panties and cowgirl the hell up if you’re ever going to get to the next stage in this thing called life.

The next time someone criticizes you…just smile.  If they are right, you have the opportunity to learn from it. If they are wrong, know within yourself that you are living in your own authenticity.

Either way, you win.

Rule #6:  Let your haters be your motivators.

You can only kick ass when you take yourself out from under the fear of being wrong. Wrong is a window. You can either stare through it and let it get dirty and cloud over, allowing it to keep you from the meadow view of awesomeness found just on the other side.

Or you can open it. Or make it a door. Whatever you do, you need to crawl/walk/hang glide through the fucker and get to the other side.

Turn the tables. Discover the art of telling others that they are/were wrong in the first place.

It’s your life. Go live it.

One last note: It is under debate whether or not Maya Angelou wrote the poem “Hater.” It is not a poem included in Angelou’s “Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou,” so while it is often claimed to be her poem, there is no proof of authorship. Regardless, I’d like to share a portion this poem with you:

A hater is someone who is jealous and envious and spends all
their time trying to make you look small so they can look tall.

They are very negative people to say the least. Nothing is ever
good enough! When you make your mark, you will always attract some haters…

That’s why you have to be careful with whom you share your blessings and your dreams, because some folk can’t handle seeing you blessed…

It’s dangerous to be like somebody else…

If God wanted you to be like somebody else, He would have given you what He gave them! Right? You never know what people have gonethrough to get what they have.

The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but
they don’t know my story…

If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, you can rest assured that the water bill is higher theretoo!

We’ve all got some haters among us!  People envy you because you can:

Have a relationship with God
Light up a room when you walk in
Start your own business
Tell a man / woman to hit the curb (if he / she isn’t about the right thing)
Raise your children without both parents being in the home

Haters can’t stand to see you happy, Haters will never want to
see you succeed, Haters never want you to get the victory, most of our haters are people who are supposed to be on our side.

Sound off!  Have you dealt with haters in your life? If so, how did you handle it?

*click the link to see why I use F-bombs in my blog. 🙂
About The Author

Torrey Shannon

My name is Torrey Shannon and I am a writer, author, blogger, movie consultant, speaker, veteran's advocate and Blue Star Mom. I am also a full-time caregiver and spouse of a wounded warrior. My husband survived a gunshot wound to the head in a gunfight in Iraq in 2004 after serving in the Army for more than 23 years. We spent three years of his recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He has severe PTSD and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Dealing with the invisible wounds of war first-hand allows me to bring a human element to the problems our military communities face. Blogging gives me the chance to do what I love the most: write about life after combat and help create awareness and solutions for military members and their families. When I am not writing here, I freelance for a variety of publications and media outlets and am currently writing a book.