Trust me, you are going to want to read this one through to the end….
It was almost exactly a year ago when I started this journey with you all. The blog went up in October but it wasn’t until Dec 23rd that my first article ran and a lot of you found me.
I was about to pull out of the parking lot at the grocery store when all of a sudden my blog email inbox started up with messages. Now I’m not saying 1 or 2 came in, I’m talking about several hundred within the first hour. I’m a little dull so I’m sitting there thinking “who the heck are all these people and how has my blog suddenly become the place to hang out?”
Now mind you I put up this blog and I told no one. There is obviously no family to tell, I didn’t tell any of my friends, I just put it up and went along my merry little way, writing for myself and anyone else who cared to read. For all intents and purposes I had walked into the middle of the forest that is the Internet, stuck a twig in the ground, and suddenly thousands of people were noticing that one tiny twig.
8,000 people that day to be exact and I had no idea who any of them were.
I drove home, pulled up the blog, looked at the traffic reader, and realized that an article I had submitted to XOJane 7 weeks prior had published that morning and people were now pouring into my blog from there.
It was about then that the enormity of what I had done became apparent. I had told the entire world that I had disowned my family and then they followed me here where I proceeded to tell them that my husband was abusive and I had been raped.
Because that’s not scary at all….
Actually I pretty much had a full blown panic attack right there in my living room.
Yet through my panic and hyperventilation I was able to see how many of you had gone through the same things, how many of us were silenced, and how many of us felt alone. I’ve talked about my reason for starting this blog in other posts, specifically “Where It All Began
” and in that moment for the first time ever, I realized that I truly was not alone in this journey. That many had gone before me and sadly many would come after me.
As I got to know you guys, I continued to pour out my heart on these pages and I continued to let you watch me as I grew, struggled, failed, and learned. I’ve let you see the deepest, darkest parts of me and many of you have let me into your lives as well. I’ve read all your emails, all your comments, I’ve truly listened to everything you have said, and through it all the ironic thing is that it was many of you who taught me the true meaning of this blogs name.
It Is Not
My Shame To Bear.
I’ve come so far from where I began in this journey, from realizing that this was not my shame to bear, to realizing that this was not my shame to bear alone.
Now mind you this blog is not and hopefully never will be public knowledge to everyone in my life because this blog does contain a lot of extremely personal details about me. There are things on here that I do not wish everyone I interact with in my real life to know about me. Will some troll try and out me at some point? I wouldn’t put it past them but it would still make me sad. On one hand it would settle the question once and for all that I am in fact who I say I am and I do in fact lead this very real life, but again, I would prefer my entire life story to not be common knowledge for reasons of privacy for my kids, protection from my family/ex, and the obvious fact that I would just prefer everyone I know to not know everything about me.
Yet despite the scary fact that my identity may someday be common Internet knowledge, I feel strongly that the overwhelming message of this blog is important enough to keep moving forward.
Recently I’ve been thinking about what would happen if I were suddenly outed in a very public way. I read the comments people write about me, how I should be embarrassed for the things I share, how all my nonprofit supporters would run for the hills if they knew what a mess I was (those of them who even believe the nonprofit exists), and it has got me thinking.
What would people think of me?
Now this was a question that I had posed a year ago to the only real life person who knew I wrote this blog. It was the question I asked Mr. Attorney Man when we started the nonprofit. “Would you be ok sitting on the board of an organization where the founder writes this blog? Would you be ok being linked to me if everyone found out that I am Eden?”
In the year since posing that question to him it was many of you who taught me that I am not alone in this. I am not the only one leading a life like this despite the fact that many readers feel the need to judge me for it. As I said, I’ve learned though this blog that it is not only not
my shame to bear, but that this is also not my shame to bear alone.
This is real life in the most very real sense, this is my real life, and as I continue to learn, I have nothing to be ashamed of, in any part of it.
The good, the bad, the ugly, the pathetic, the crazy, the embarrassing, the failing, the learning, the funny, the compassion, the amazing, the acceptance, the really, really, weird, it’s all me. It’s all me and I am not ashamed to say that IT’S ALL ME. If my name is outed by someone who just can’t stand the fact that I’d prefer a little privacy and the real world wants to judge me for the life I lead, then bring it on because I am totally ok with being me; all of me.
We are all weird. Whoever came up with this idea of “normal” was a big fat liar, because normal people are just people who pull off “fake” the best. We all have our flaws. We all have our secrets, our habits, our fears, our embarrassments, things we wish we did better, things we wish we had never done. We all have sex, we all do stupid things, we all strive for a better life. We all walk around day after day hoping to fit in the best that we can and hoping that no one sees our cracks. The only absolute common denominator that I can find in a “normal” person is that there is so much more to each and every one of them then you would ever have believed to exist.
So here I am, flaws, cracks, and all. I’m not normal, but I’m willing to bet that not being normal is a hell of a lot more normal than most people would be willing to admit.
So this whole “I’m not normal and I don’t need to be” thing had gotten me thinking about the reasons as to why I was keeping this blog so secretive. I thought about it a lot and as of recent I’ve told a few people about all of you and what I’ve been doing. I told the people that I consider to be my family, the family I always wanted. I have been fairly blessed with a large group of friends, but just like the friends many of you have, you don’t tell them everything. The people I told are more than just my friends, they are my family. They are my family because they have seen just how deep my cracks run and have continued to be the people that support me through the craziness that is my life.
It was a little weird, to be like “hey and uh, by the way, I’ve been writing this blog thing, and it’s probably more than you would ever want to know about me, but uh, on the off chance that this goes public, I’d uh like you to have heard it from me first.”
But there it is, my “family” now knows about what I’ve been doing and surprisingly they have all been really proud of me.
To make it even better we had a grand old time reading the trolling threads and all the nasty comments people write calling me an Internet hoax. I know people think it’s weird that I read the comments and trolling threads about me but I really don’t understand why that seems so strange. Writing an article is like painting a picture. If it is being displayed at an art show, it would be expected that the artist show up seeing as how it is their work and all. Yet if a writer has an article published and then goes on to read the comments, people always seem so surprised by that. Like I said, I don’t get it. Either way, I get a kick out of reading them, I really do. I mean I know I’m real, so it’s really strange watching people argue about how you cannot possibly be a real person. Mr. Attorney Man and I have been laughing at them for months, we particularly enjoyed the people talking about how mortified Mr. Attorney Man would be if he knew I was writing about him on this blog and that I probably have him tied up in my basement somewhere. Now that a few of my friends know as well, it has been especially fun reading them together over a bottle of wine.
It’s now a running joke that we can do whatever we want because we aren’t real anyways!
So as we were reading the trolling comments and discussing how very real we apparently weren’t, along with the fact that we had enjoyed a few glasses of wine, and because my friends are just as strange as I am, we suddenly thought it would be funny to start the “I am real and so is she” campaign. After a little discussion and a quick conversation with the part of the group that wasn’t with us, we decided to have everyone write a sign with whatever they felt like sharing and to hold it just below their eyes to protect my anonymity. We didn’t make the signs that night, but I have to say that over the next several days as the pictures started showing up in my inbox, I was reminded why I had chosen them as my family in the first place.
So without further ado, I would like for you to meet my real life friends, the people that you have been reading about, because not only am I real, but they are real too.
Remember the girly from “Make It Count?”
This is my bestie, and as I said she is the girl with whom I would trust to raise my children in the event that God forbid something happened to me. She was the first one I told when my ex left and the first one I called after the rape
. It was her mother-in-law that taunted my mother in church
and her own mother that lovingly kidnapped me last Christmas
. Her family and her husband’s family rallied alongside me when my own family did not and I will forever be greatful to them for that. Some of you thought that my post about her was so sappy that it couldn’t possibly be true, but here she is, in the flesh.
I’m also pleased to introduce to you the the famous “Frisbee Boy’s” Mom. She has been in so many posts I’m not even sure what to link here, but as I explained in the post “They Came Softly,” she really has become the mother I never had, the mother I always wanted.
Below is my hysterical friend from Florida. She has an editorial backgroud and has been amazing at letting me bounce writing questions off of her. She takes care of me in ten different ways all the way from Florida and if I ever get the chance I’m moving into her house with the pool (hint, hint). She had the pleasure of meeting Jorge and his amazing teeth with me and I am so blessed to have her in my life.
This is my sidekick, my platonic husband if you will. She is the one I shake my ass with on the dance floor, plan ill fated trips to the pumpkin farm with, and toast my glass with during our crazy parties. She is not just the girl who brought someone to my house who gave me the strangest advice I have heard in my entire life, but she is also an amazing woman who works alongside me at my nonprofit. I’ve read many comments that there is no way the adventures we have are real, but I assure you they unfortunately are!
Below is a girlfriend of mine that I met years ago when we joined the same playgroup with our daughters. She was one of the first people to be there for me when my ex left and coincidentally works at a domestic abuse shelter. Not only can she frequently be found clinking glasses with me during the weekends, but I spent Thanksgiving with her and her family. I am proud to call her my friend and I am grateful that she accepts me like family.
Last but not least, I couldn’t possibly leave you without a final word from Mr. Attorney Man. Not only has he been a good sport in accompanying me through the craziness that has been the last several years of my life, but he has fought for me against my ex, gone to bat for me in the courtroom, vouched for my identity with the companies I work for, founded an amazing organization with me, and is now starting a new journey as the co-author of our upcoming book.
So there you go, six very real people in my life who have loved me through thick and thin (or supported me in a professional kind of way when it comes to the dude pictured above) and the six people that I trust most in this world. Six people who have been with me through some of my roughest patches and six people that are continuing to support me as I chug along in this little blog of mine.
As I said I will continue to strive in maintaining my anonymity for the privacy of my children and the safety of my family, not to mention the fact that it would just be weird to hand out this information to everyone who knows me, but I no longer feel the need to hide my secrets from the people who are the closest to me. I realize that many of you
trolls readers feel that this blog would be a hindrance to my professional life, but we will have to agree to disagree on that.
So thank you, my fellow readers for continuing to remind me that I am not alone in this journey and thank you to the dear six of you who put up with the real life me on a very real daily basis.
If there is anything that I have learned from this blog, it’s that I am real in the most authentic way. I’m not talking about the fact that the life I describe in this blog is real, I’m talking about the fact that I live in the most authentic way possible. I’ve thought in depth about what it will be like for my children to read this blog when they are older or what my nonprofit supporters might think of me if they saw this. Yes, I’m strange. I make mistakes, I struggle, and sometimes I fail. I embarrass myself often. I share to much and sometimes too little; I’m still learning the delicate balance. I do things people think are crazy and I say things people can’t believe I said. I don’t always have the right answer, but I’m always willing to learn. I’m passionate, different, reflective, strong willed, opinionated, unique, driven, and not afraid to stand up for what I believe to be right. If you take all of that together and decide that the majority of my traits reflect poorly upon me, then so be it because I am no longer ashamed of who I am and I am unwilling to pretend to be someone I’m not.
This is me and I am real. I’m not normal, but that’s probably a good thing, because I think if I had been normal, I might never have gotten to where I am today.
I don’t want to be normal, I just want to be me.
There is enough “normal” in this world, enough fake to go around. It’s authenticity that is valued the most, for authentic is the truest form of an original, and it’s the originals that set the standard for the future.
Don’t waste your time pretending to be someone you aren’t because all you are really doing is masking the fact that you are striving to be a cheap rip off of something original. Be you, for nothing is more valued than authenticity.
I don’t want to be normal, I just want to be authentic.
himself spent his entire life fighting against what others thought to be right and true. He believed in a universe outside of our own and he never faltered in his dedication to prove that the earth revolved around the sun. Despite what others thought of him, despite how it reflected on him professionally, and even when he fell to the mercy of the courts, it was his persistence in being himself that showed us a universe far greater than we ever would have seen without him.
As I’ve said before,
stars, like people are imperfect, yet each one continues to shine in it’s own unique way. The sky would be be a lot dimmer if we only allowed some of our stars to shine.
I’m not normal, I’m far from it actually, but I’m ok with that because it’s the brightest stars that lead the way, the ones who aren’t afraid to make their presence known.
There is a reason our entire planet gravitates towards the sun.
I might not be normal, but at least I’ll shine bright.
(They make sunglasses if you don’t want to see me.)
As the rest of you, don’t be afraid to shine brightly in all your glorious (im)perfection.
For just like the sun it’s those that shine brightest who warm the earth.
Love this post, Eden. Having 6 people to trust and lean on in all of life's twists and turns is amazing. I could name 6 people I'd trust my life to, and 6 I'd trust my secrets to, but I don't think I could name 6 where those two overlap. To all Eden's real people….. THANK YOU for supporting Eden, and for sharing a piece of your lives with those of us who aren't trolls.
Aw, many hugs to you 🙂
Some people think if it's not on google, it didn't really happen. Once I was trying to explain that Saudi Arabia enforces their hijab policy with jail time (I personally knew a girl who went to jail for not being sufficiently covered) and these boys from Saudi Arabia posted that I was a liar and a fake who never lived in their country. I had to dig up an Amnesty International report that backed me up and then my doubters were like, “well *I* never knew anyone who that happened to.” Yeah, because most men and women move in completely different societies.For what it's worth, people only want you to be fake because you don't support their worldview. They'd rather that DV is a problem blown way out of proportion by feminists than have it be a real problem faced by people they see on a daily basis.
Exactly!! If they don’t feel like believing it, then it’s not true. Give them proof, well it was never their issue to begin with. It’s easy to disbelieve and when proven wrong, they never admit to it.
I might be messed up and crazy, but at least I admit to my shortcomings.
Love you! I have never understood these people “oh, that can't be real” and “she isn't real” and whatever. Those people are dinks. You, on the other hand, are awesome.
Haha, well thank you!!
This was a fantastic concept to address the issues that some people were having with your blog!At this point, anyone still groaning and gossiping about you is just doing it for the love of groaning and gossiping. There will always be people like that, at least anywhere where a lot of people gather!Thank you for the fantastic blog and congrats on a full year of postings!
Thank you 🙂 My friends and I had a lot of fun putting it together. Well I did that, but I had a great time reading their signs! Lol
Thank you and I’m looking forward to the year to come!
Eden, sweetie, I never doubted your existence or experiences for one second! Nice to meet the wonderful family of trusted insiders you have built for yourself. Fuck the trolls. Oops, did I just type that? LOLHope your holidays have been happy and good fortune washes over you in the upcoming year.Much love and many hugs from the gray East Coast!
Stranger!! I was wondering if you were still around!!
You crack me up! I will join you in that, fuck the trolls! Let’s make t-shirts 🙂
Wishing you the best this season and all the days to come!
**BIG HUGS** from my own gray homeland.
Trolls…Ugh…they need to just go away. I've never doubted you. One question…What about the new boy in your life? Most anxious to hear!!!
I can’t wait to tell you guys! I have a couple posts ready to go first, but I’m working on one with him. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear everyone’s opinion!
Hi to Eden's friends! nice to meet you!
🙂 So sweet!
Hooray for the non-normals! We need more of 'em out in this world. ;)You seem to have found a wonderful family for yourself in those six people. That's so wonderful. Having people you can trust with your deepest, darkest secrets and know that they know and still love you is an amazing thing.As for the trolls…well, that's the internet for you, unfortunately. Computers in mommy's basement seem to work extremely well (whereas in the basement of my house the wi-fi is spotty) and all those who live there have to get their kicks somehow. They probably wouldn't believe your story even if they had solid, concrete evidence wrapped up in a huge pillowcase and smacked upside their head. Best to just ignore them.
Well thank you, I have been very blessed 🙂
I agree about the trolls, they will just move from disbelief to character assassination but I don’t even care anymore. Bring it on trollie bitches! Lol. Mr. Attorney Man referred to them as unshowered people sitting in their mother’s basement eating cheetos. Haha!
I didn't realize most others on here had “met” you (as I did, but months later) through the “disowning your family” article. I knew there was more to the story, so I checked out your blog – after your first post, I was blown away. Someone else left a “perfect” family for a life surrounded by druggies/sketchy people? Your story still seemed kinda depressing at that point, but then I kept reading. What do I find? Someone with a life that's somehow completely hilarious (actually, one of the first posts I read after that was the one with the “strange advice”, imagine that contrast…) I guess the reason I was drawn to you (and others, I imagine) is that you explain the truth about your past but don't define yourself by it. Because very few other people do that.It is clear, though, that all THOSE^^^ people see you the same way we do. I'm glad they have read this, that you seem to be the same person both on and offline. I hadn't really read the GOMI threads until recently (because fuck the haters) but it blew my mind the amount of people that were obsessed with you. They won't admit it, but they know that you are mostly “real”, which is probably why they do what they do, to piss you off. But then when you show how real you are, like this, they start to look more like idiots and instead attack your character… which is pretty low, but who cares? It's all they're able to do.I am slowly finding that the more real I am, the more real friends I have, which has turned into something of a “family of choice”, like what you now have. With the family I grew up in, it was all about image. I only realize now how much I've grown when the question went from “What would they think of me?” to “Why do I care what they think?”
It’s crazy to me that in the hundreds of articles I’ve written, it’s that one XOJane article that leads so many people to this blog. I’m happy you have all found your way here and I am even happier that you stuck around! I absolutely love how everyone has come together and I’ve very much enjoyed getting to know all of you. 🙂
The trolling threads are insane. They really are obssessed aren’t they? They are convinced that I am not only a hoax, but that I am also all of my commentors, and that I am all the “sock puppets” on the threads as well. It really does crack me up to read everything. Oh well! If your life is so sad that you have to fully invest yourself in something that bothers you so much, well then I am happy to give you something to read that gives you any sort of twisted purpose in life because I can’t imagine how sad your life must actually be.
I’m glad that you are having some revelations in your family of choice 🙂 It’s amazing what is out there when you let go of the bad and allow the good to come in!
Mr. Attorney Man is my favorite “Dear, Internet trolls, and people I feel sorry for” Yep, couldnt be more true lol
Haha! I love his sense of humor. He said it was his one chance to talk to the unshowered people sitting in their mother’s basement eating cheetos. Lol!
Wow, my post ended up kind of disjointed… in the first paragraph there, I meant to say that I, too, made some bad choices about who to let into my life, as you have said about yourself. The thing I would always get from my family was “Where do you MEET these people?!” They didn't realize it was just the only type of people I was familiar with!Thankfully, though, that is mostly in the past. I'm not quite where I want to be yet, but then again, is anyone really?!*hugs right back atcha!*
Eden, I've always believed in you, that you are real (I mean who would make this stuff up?) and I hope to shake your hand one day and give you a hug. Aside from web development advice, that's the only way I can support you. 🙂
WEB DEVELOPMENT? Where have you been hiding this information!! I have like 38 questions for you.
Thanks 🙂 I appreciate it!!
*hugs right back atcha!*I tried to make another comment that clarified my disjointed post but I hope you understood it. Can't wait for the trolls to respond to this one!
I understood it 🙂 Thank you!
Hi back guys. Brazilian greetings for all the off-line friends…and for the digital ones too.
Aw thanks 🙂
Not sure I would trust a “lawyer” who doesn't know the difference between “than” and “then.”
Hopefully you know the difference between a lawyer and an english professor…and have never made an honest mistake yourself.
I had to take a look at the GOMI thread after reading this post and you are right, they are INSANE. First of all, it's obviously a bunch of 12 year olds or really, really, sad adults that think they can make up their own language and look cool. “because, send money.” Wtf is that? Are we now talking in text-speak? They sound like a bunch of brainless wannabe cool people. “I just can't even.” I'm literally having visions of a teenage girl talking to her friends in the mall food court.I personally found it hysterical that they went directly from “she isn't real” to “she just wants money.””Quiet everyone, lets just ignore the fact that we were all wrong and find something else we hate about her!”It seems like they are mostly stuck on the donation button, the most recent comments talk about how you beg for money on your blog and solicit donations for your nonprofit. I've been a reader here since the beginning and I've never once seen you beg for donations or even ask for donations. You got out of an abusive relationship and learning to support yourself and kids in the aftermath is a big issue for women in your situation. Talking about the struggles you have as you financially rebuild your life is not begging for donations. Why do they care if you have a donation button? Do you know how many holiday lights shows I went to this year? All were free and all had a donation bin outside. That's not called soliciting for donations, that's called funding the cause. It takes time and effort to do what you do on this blog and if someone wants to compensate you for your time then why does anyone else need to care? They seem to be under the impression that talking about a very real struggle that you have and having a donation button on a site that must take an immense amount of time is a direct correlation. You write, we choose to read, and if someone wants to donate with their own money then who the fuck has a right to say what someone can do with their own money. It's not like you only comment back to the people who donate. It's not like the donate button is top and center in the blog. You talk about every aspect of your recovery, help a lot of people, and I don't see anything wrong with getting compensated for it if someone chooses to do so in their own right. (if I were you I would be selling subscriptions)Just ignore them they are obviously jealous that you have a great thing going on over here.
Haha! Love the language references. I always roll my eyes at those as well. You know what, they are going to bitch about something. It doesn’t matter what I do, they will always bitch because that’s their hobby. Must suck to be so grouchy and judgy in life.
It’s not just GOMI, but they are a fun little bunch over there aren’t they?
Love this. Nice to “meet” you!
I love how the blog came full circle for you 🙂
I love how my LIFE has come full circle and you guys have been such a big part of it 🙂 Thank you!
That is exactly how I would have pictured Mr. Attorney Man's response to be and it is awesome.
Haha! Well I am glad I seem to have been portraying him accurately!
Those T-shirts sound like a good idea – could be my coolest outfit for New Years! At this point I kinda feel like I'd have a lot to say, but it all comes to a warm, big THANK YOU for being here and inspiring, and just being not normal (which indeed is like a light that seems to help lots of scared little animals come out of their caves and show their awesome, un-normal noses to the light too)!Hope you're going to stay here and trolls are gonna start being employed and have enough life to live on their own. ;)Best wishes and happy happy New Year!Helen
Aw that’s a cute analogy. Show your tiny little un-normal adorable noses lol! THANK YOU all for reminding me that I am not alone, that there are others just like me! I have SO enjoyed this journey with all of you 🙂
I’m not going anywhere, the trolls will be trolls. Let them have their chatter 🙂
Happy New Year!
With the internet, you can reach thousands of people in a day. With those numbers, finding a few dozen who have a strong negative opinion are still good odds. It's definitely a good thing you use a pseudonym, I really think one of those trolls would try to dig up your personal info and send it to your ex. (Also, LOL@ whoever posted your name “sounds totally fake.”)I don't visit xoJane anymore, I take serious issue with the racism of some of the article writers and the commentariat. They can be pretty messed up if you're not upper middle class, white, and western. Something else to keep in mind.
I’m sure they would! It’s been really strange watching them “peg” me. They are fairly convinced they have me and Mr. Attorney Man pegged which I think is pretty funny. A few poor people have no idea they are now apparently someone else online (although I don’t think I’m a half bad choice if you had to pick someone haha).
Always heartening to watch someone rise from the ashes. Sending good wishes from Austin!
Aw thanks 🙂
Sending a great big Happy New Year all the way to Austin!
You're so awesome and clearly your friends are too!! 🙂 I love love love everything you write…what is this about an upcoming BOOK!?!?! More information please!!!! Happy happy New Year to you xoxoxo
Ha! Well that is quite the flattery *blushing* thanks!
I can’t tell you much about the book yet, but I think you guys will like it. I actually thought it would be out by now but I switched gears a few months ago and decided to bring Mr. Attorney Man in as a co-author. I think you guys will like what we are working on 🙂
Happy New Year to you as well!!
The “family” you get to pick. If only we could ALL do that!!! Great job honey 🙂
🙂 Thanks, I’ve been very blessed 🙂
One of your works made it's way to Yahoo the one about suckers and being a volunteer who now needs volunteers. When i read that I thought here is someone who has experienced what I have and understands what it means to go from the volunteer to the destitute. I've experienced homelessness in multiple ways over the years and the one thing that has been consistent is the amazing stories I have of charity and hard work that come from friends and family. It seems you have a loving and generous family despite the plague of biological remnants leftover from your past. Hopefully you remain strong and courageous and that they remain in the pastI can offer two pieces of advice that helped me. Don't eat free cheese. Learn to code. Government cheese is the worst tasting stuff in the world, and many places that give free cheese don't follow safety standards so that may save you some stomach aches. Being able to learn a computer language allows you the luxury of something that often can be done at home. It gives you freedom and in a very real sense it gives you a life skill, one that will be always be in demand (and its a great way to make money on the side while you do other jobs)
Haha! I will definitely stay away from government cheese! I always get a little nervous with the perishable stuff, most of it is past the expiration date.
Thank you for your tips and support, and thank you for finding me here!
I hope you stick around. How are you doing now?
There is no more government cheese. We get food stamps now. Is coding really the most important thing you've learned from being homeless? I don't mean to be rude, but my troll alarm went off when I scrolled through here. xo Eden, I enjoy reading your blog every once in a while.