If you have been tuned in the past month via Instagram, you may have seen this post where we FINALLY shared what has been going on since December. That evening we posted an Instagram live video but since they disappear and we know everyone didn’t see it – we wanted to keep this story where people could access it and find out some tips we have for situations like this in case you ever have to deal with it, which we HOPE you don’t.
In December, a week before Christmas…I received a long, ranting and dramatic DM (direct message) on Instagram via fake screen name detailing why I was hated by the sender. It was intense, I’m not gonna lie…and it was really disturbing that they felt the need to send it from a fake screen name because that’s when you know you’re dealing with someone who is truly not okay. It also shows that to them, hurting you is worth the effort they went to creating this fake screen name. That takes it to another level.
I had already planned a hiatus in November for January 1st and I was SO excited about it at this point because I thought WOW – yeah, I needed that!!! I really needed it after this mess. God was working over time in my life because it’s not like me to not dwell (I’m working on it, lol) – but I had the most beautiful and peaceful Christmas yet. My hiatus for three weeks off social media in January was SO good, too. SO MUCH PEACE. And then….guess what?
The day I returned, a bigger and angrier and more disturbing message from the same screen name with a couple of numbers added to it because I had blocked the previous one. I mean – to see this person so upset over my life was even more disturbing than the first time. She was more frantic, messy and just not making sense at all. She was saying random things like Mike and I couldn’t go to Front Porch Cafe and say we live a simple life (apparently FPC is very high end, upper class stuff, LOL) – I mean just fixated but cruel. I kept thinking, do they work!? Do they have a family? WHAT DOES THIS PERSON DO? I was convinced it was one of those loner, unemployed Catfish types. Sitting and scrolling all day. One of my best friends and her husband, a past bride and groom, convinced me to file a police report.
And that started a crazy journey that ended up leading our incredible investigator to actually figuring out who did this. We did NOT think that was possible. We did NOT expect it…but we got justice. But before that came an investigation took place that led us to find out the most disturbing part of all:
This was someone who had been emailing me since 2014, repeatedly
Inquiring a minimum of three times for services
Over-complimenting so intensely to the point of it being boundary crossing but disguised as kindness
She was on the newsletter list
She had ordered from my print shop
She had DM’d me RECENTLY asking to buy a dress from me on Instagram, when I told her it was sold she stated she’d grab the next item I posted (who says that? how do you know you’ll even like it? red flag!)
She also mentioned (AGAIN) how much she adored us and loved our recent meal prep posts
This is sick. This is not okay. You don’t get to pretend you are a kind and normal human being via constant inquiries and messages (taking FULL ADVANTAGE of me being an accessible and kind business owner) and then behind the scenes go to extreme lengths to attack and break me down through a false identity. I have news for those of you who want to or have made up a fake screen name (including the girl who already did this on my blog I caught in 0.2 seconds because IP ADDRESS, someone I considered a friend) – this is against the law and it’s called cyber stalking.
You don’t have to like me, but you don’t get to cyber stalk me. You can go talk to your friends and family about how much you hate me, but not me. There is something deeply sad about someone who wants to take that time from their life to ruin another person’s. This is obsession and fixation and jealousy and it’s NEVER OKAY and it’s NEVER JUSTIFIED.
If you find yourself obsessing over someone online or in real life, please get help. A professional will not judge you, they will help you. If you find yourself scrolling and feeling ANGRY or bitter, this is your sign that something isn’t operating correctly inside of your heart or mind. As natural as those feelings seem – they are not healthy and they are dangerous. They could also be indicators of depression, please see resources below if you need help.
Ultimately, we took it way easier on this person that they may have deserved…but we walked through a process of forgiveness and realizing this woman had already hit her rock bottom and needed help. When I sat and thought about how devastating it was that she had to explain this to her family and how embarrassing it must have been, I realized she would now have exposed to those who are closest to her that there a deep problems she needs help with and NOW they can help her! We forgave her. We prayed for her. It was kind of funny how much Mike had no interest in forgiving her considering her messages were strangely protective of him and how bad I was to him, LOL (girl do you have a man? get away from mine, HAHA!) – but ultimately I explained how all of her behavior shows how she must have been in such a dark place to do this and he felt a little bad for her and forgave her. I am proud of you Mike, I know you were not feeling that at all for a while.
My process of forgiveness was slow, but it was real. I prayed for her and hoped she would become a new and better woman from this experience. Want to see the most AMAZING bible verse I found on the day I needed it most during this whole process?:
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
Wow. Just wow. If you are struggling to forgive, I get it. Let me offer this ONE perspective to potentially help begin the process:
What kind of sadness/darkness/anger/depression does a person have to have in their soul to have done you wrong the way they did? Can you imagine being THAT kind of a person?
I know it doesn’t help when you’ve been done wrong. When I’ve been cruel and angry before, I’ve looked back and KNOWN THAT I WAS NOT A HAPPY PERSON at that time because happy humans simply do not do these things. It’s discomfort, jealousy, anger, competitiveness and depression. It’s all the bad things that lead hurt people to hurt people. Get it? That sentence is real. And it’s sad. We knew we had to follow THROUGH with filing a report and investigating so this person could understand the weight of their actions…we had to SHOW THEM it was wrong by putting them in the most uncomfortable situation of their life and letting them know they broke the law… but we also get to forgive them as well. We get to show them how damn good we are and that they can be good, too. That good people exist. We feel this story of ours went as absolutely well as it ever could have…and we are SO GRATEFUL for that.
If you have received an “anonymous” text, email, DM, blog comment or voicemail, please consider reporting to your local police. Tell them the TRUTH about how you feel and why you feel this is a concern. It is against the law to harass, annoy or intentionally hurt someone via anonymous identity. Resources are below for help!
THANK YOU for letting us share this story and for the HUGE support we’ve gotten since! So many people have told us similar stories and it breaks my heart but ultimately, we get to share this and feel less alone. We get to tell you that regardless of likes, followers, shiny life moments, all the positivity our family possesses and shares – we have experienced what it’s like to deal with cyber stalking from someone who pretended to be kind and normal via business inquiries but had an entire other identity to harass us from. But…we fought back, and we got to help a really hurt person in the process who may have otherwise not gotten help and we are grateful for that.
I get to tell our daughters one day that I did TWO wonderful things in this situation: I stood up for myself and for our family and didn’t back down … AND … I forgave a hurting person and prayed for her. I am proud that I get to give them this example of kindness and strength some day!
ADVICE FOR BUSINESS OWNERS:
Truly, it depends on what you do, but I offer a service in which *I* am the one to show up and perform the service. I am the one they email, and I’m clearly open to anyone to send an inquiry, any time. Business owners are extremely accessible and nowadays we have SO many inboxes that it’s just so easy for us to be contacted. Please consider moving business inquiries ALWAYS to your email inbox simply by replying to their DM and giving them your email address. I know you want to be so flexible and not “make them do too much” but you really need a record of these inquiries IN YOUR EMAIL. When someone inquiries with us via DM, and we ask them to email us instead and they don’t, we know they weren’t serious to begin with. DO NOT GO OUT ON A LIMB FOR SLACK INQUIRIES. Get them in your email inbox.
This person had emailed us SEVERAL times inquiring, and never booking. She disclosed way too much personal information and crossed a lot of boundaries but I responded briefly and kindly every time. And thankfully she thought I was too expensive when she emailed me the last time, HAHA! And the last time she emailed inquiring…by the way? It was after she had sent the hate messages. That’s right. The timeline went:
*Lots of emails with compliments & inquiries
*Sign up for one of our newsletters
*Buy from print shop
*Inquire for family session with me
*Sends nice and “innocent” DMs
So here is my advice to business owners who really need to have their own back and set boundaries when it comes to this. SAVE ALL OF YOUR EMAILS. At least for 4-5 years. If I had been someone who deletes emails, we wouldn’t have been able to connect things as well as we did. Imagine had I not known the extent of this person’s correspondence with me. We get hundreds of emails a month and hers date back to 2014, I would never have remembered these conversations! Also remember you can look at your blog post comments, subscribers to newsletters, etc to connect these things should you have to experience this.
If someone is emailing you disclosing TOO much, keep your distance. Be kind, but keep your distance. Someone who reveals extremely personal details to someone they’ve never met can be a good person who doesn’t know better or a big red flag, and in my case, a BIG red flag. Sometimes people will message me about things that are personal that are relatable to things I’ve shared, but I personally could not relate to any of the things she was telling me which is why is felt strange to be told these things. If it was something I shared about before, I get it…but none of it was.
So we really wanted to do an act of kindness after all of this – and we decided for the 150 comments on our post sharing the story, we would donate 150 items of food to the local food bank! THEY WERE SOOO happy to receive such a big donation!!!!! 🙂 Click here for our picture at the store! 🙂
Below are some of my FAVORITE BOOKS (that totally got me through this!) and resources!