Note: this post was originally published February 18th 2014 but due to a server malfunction it was lost in cyberspace along with about 25 comments from this post and 25 others from other posts! I am including some of the comments that I saved in email at the end of the post so please read through to the end.
*also: for those of you who don’t know, facebook has a feature that allows me to choose if I want to allow people to subscribe to my posts and status updates, and since I have a really big readership here and not everyone wants to publically follow the emerging from broken facebook page, I allow people to follow the status updates on my personal page.
When People use Facebook to Spy; Dear Stalkers
I was surprised to see how popular my “dear stalkers” status update on my facebook page was. I thought that the ‘back story’ might make for an interesting update here on the emerging from broken website.
When I first noticed that my mother’s husband was subscribing to my status updates on my personal facebook page, I was a little shocked. I couldn’t figure out why the hell he was openly following me when my mother (his wife) isn’t even interested in speaking to me. Why would they ‘follow me’ and subscribe to my personal facebook status updates?
The day before I noticed he was following me, I had confronted a cousin that I have not spoken to for YEARS for sharing a picture of my daughter on her page. I have not spoken to her for at least 12 years and I noticed that she had subscribed to my status updates on my personal page and for over 3 weeks she had been clicking the like button for everything I posted, but she had not sent me a friend request, messaged me or spoken directly to me. I thought it was really odd. But when I saw the share notification from facebook that she had shared a picture I posted of my youngest daughter getting her cast changed in the hospital, (my daughter had been in a car accident a couple of weeks earlier) I thought that was downright creepy!
So I went to her facebook page and asked her why she was sharing my pictures? She responded with “because your family does care about you”. You know the old saying “they have a funny way of showing it?” well I worded it this way; “So you are sharing these for my family? You’ve been liking my status updates for weeks but you’ve never talked to me? No one in my family has even asked about any of my kids for years ~ is that what you call “caring?”
(I don’t call it caring; I call it spying and information mongering.)
She didn’t answer the question but proceeded to tell me all the family news!??? (News such as who had surgery, and who died and how she doesn’t talk to most of ‘them’ because they are only interested in themselves. (Have you ever noticed how much these people are so willing to throw each other under the bus in order to convince you that they are on “your side”?)
I stopped responding to her in that conversation on her status because suddenly the whole horrific dysfunctional family thing came rushing back and I remembered why I stopped talking to all but one cousin on my mother’s side of my extended family YEARS before I drew the boundaries with my mother.
The very next day I got the notification from facebook that my mother’s husband had subscribed to my status updates and was following me on my personal facebook page, (not my professional page which all of them are welcome to follow.) I felt ‘invaded’. I felt like I was being spied on. My blog is public but my personal facebook page is a whole different thing when it comes to people that don’t actually care about me or my family.
My first reaction to seeing his name in my notifications was fear. I am not sure why that was my first reaction, but I am guessing it is related to the default mode of the childhood fear of standing up to your ‘elders’ or perhaps ‘controllers’ is a better word for them. (Sometimes I think of them as my past ‘handlers’ since I was consistently regarded as less than an actual person and more of an object they ‘owned’.) When I was a kid, if I stood up to anyone I was threatened with the fear of being sent away, the fear of being hit, or the fear of not being loved, all of which are rejection.
I wondered if my Cousin Judy ~ the one who was posting my picture on her page, had contacted him. I wondered if I should respond to the notification that he was following me by posting a public status update asking him WHY? I wondered if his following me was a type of threat. I wondered if he actually knew that by pressing the follow button, he realized that I would be notified. I wondered if someone was pretending to be him in an attempt to frighten me or mess with me so I checked his profile and confirmed that it was his profile.
I wondered what they hell they were up to!
Perhaps I should have wondered what they are afraid of.
I already know that they have been reading my blog for years and I have never cared. I also know that they read my professional fb page and I don’t care about that either ~ my blog and the EFB facebook page are public and I write them under my real name with the full understanding that they are visible to anyone on the internet but there is something about these people who don’t give a crap about me, checking out the pictures of my life and of my kids on my personal facebook page that bugs me.
It bugs me because they want to KNOW about my life but they don’t want ME to know that they want to know. They want to have all the updates without actually caring about my family. It bugs me that they don’t ‘care’ about my family even though at the same time I am relieved that they don’t care. It doesn’t hurt so much anymore but it still gets under my skin a little. They want to pretend that they care without the ACTION of care. I know that in this day and age it is easy for people to find out all kinds of stuff about another person and see pictures and all that, and maybe if the story they tell about me was true it would be easier, but the story they tell isn’t the actual truth.
It bugs me that they read my work and they stalk me on facebook but they have never wanted to work anything out with me. They have never shown any interest in hearing me but they want to know what I am saying and it is by the statements their actions make that they have lost the privilege of knowing the news about my children and our lives. They have made it very clear that they don’t care, that they don’t LOVE. They want to have their selfish fantasy which is that I closed the door on them and have deprived them of their grandchildren ~ BUT that isn’t how it happened and it isn’t the truth about how our relationship ended. The truth is that I told my mother what was bothering me and asked to be treated with mutual respect and she never spoke to me again. (the rest of that story is all within the pages of this website. Please feel free to read as much of it as you like.)
After I thought about the option of blocking them on facebook I had other fears flash through my mind such as “what if by blocking them I communicate that I am afraid of them or what if they think that I didn’t know all this time that they were spying on me and reading my blog? What if they get really mad?… These fears are just default mode / survival mode fears that come up sometimes because of having lived in that fear for so long. But today it only takes me minutes to overcome those fears and return to the truth. My life is mine today. Who cares if they get mad? Who cares what they think or why they think? It makes no difference to the truth. They can’t hurt me anymore because the truth set me free from all that.
As I was considering my options here, I realized that even though blocking doesn’t prevent them from making another account and following me again, it does help that I won’t see their names in my FB notifications anymore. So I blocked them from my personal page.
So, here is the status update that I posted after I blocked both my cousin and my mother’s husband from being able to see my personal facebook page but suspected that one of them is already following again; “Dear Stalkers ~ (this would be to my so called family that don’t actually speak to me but want to know everything I am saying and doing) ~ I am well aware that blocking you from my FB page does not prevent you from following my page under a fake name ~ but it does prevent me from being irritated by it!”
The status update was hugely popular! I am thinking about making it a regular feature. J My next “dear stalkers” article might be about the people who have contacted me to tell me all the lies that my family tells about me. Each of them has asked me not to reveal that they contacted me… I’m like “really??” I thought you said that you read my blog!
Please share your thoughts about this subject and the two sided rules and expectations in dysfunctional family dynamics. And for those of you who can, please share this post on Social Media! There are millions of people out there looking for support and validation and this is a great place to find it!
P.S. My daughter made a full recovery ~ thank you for all the notes and get well wishes that were sent from all over the world!
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time!
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Here are some of the comments that were posted by readers in the brief time the post was online; Please feel free to share your thoughts with any of these commenters as well!
Caden said; “Exactly, they just want to suck up the information without really wanting to know or respect you or your voice; to impose themselves and their interpretation of your life on you without having to change anything about themselves or work on a relationship. My “family” was the same way, eternally thinking they could just contact me as if nothing had ever happened. They’d still do it if they could I’m sure. And I remember my mother violating my boundaries by spamming me with information about my estranged siblings lives and careers, etc. after I was no longer speaking with them. It was so sick. Personally, I don’t want to stalk them–for my personal safety I’d want to know if they moved in next door, but otherwise, I’m not interested in their lives, and I’m not “one of them.” And there is no way I want to participate in their insane triangulations either, all the “I don’t really like that person either”–and it lasts until we get off the phone or until another event arises for a fake showing of relationship, or they decide to gang up on me with that other person instead. All of that hypocritical fakeness makes me sick. I can imagine I would feel fear too if they suddenly tried to follow me on Facebook or hang around on my blog. I’ve had some creepy stalker requests from obviously fake facebook accounts in the past year since I confronted my family, but you know what? If that is all they can do, try to trick me into becoming facebook friends, then they’re really quite pathetic and why should I fear them since that’s all they’ve got? The old fears come back up, but really, today they’re nothing. I believe in pre-emptively blocking estranged relatives and their minions for my own peace of mind. Thanks so much for sharing about this subject Darlene!”
Kris Healing said; “Thanks for the post! I have figured out that in my relationship with my mother that from her point of view, knowledge equals power. If she knows something that I don’t, or if she knows something about me, even something fairly mundane, then that equates to having control over me. This makes sense, as she has always been extremely controlling and manipulative in many ways. Even though I used to talk to her frequently, she would often not tell me important family information, including people moving, breaking up, getting married, health concerns, even deaths in the family or our community. I used to get very frustrated with her when this would happen and tell her so, and she would always have an excuse like she didn’t want to bother me, or it was so sad she didn’t know how to tell me, or she meant to but forgot because her life is so busy. I didn’t really believe her, but I didn’t understand why she was doing this. This bothered me a lot until I figured out that keeping information from me was just another way for her to feel like she had power and control over me – that she had something I didn’t, and something I wanted/needed, – so it fit right in with all of her other controlling and manipulative behaviour. Although she kept all kinds of things from me, she demanded that I tell her everything about myself and my life – my thoughts, my problems, my successes, my feelings, all of the details of everything in my life. I used to think it was wonderful that she cared so much, and and then I started noticing that she used that information against me. Often it would be something subtle, like digging for more information about a problem I was having, and then dramatizing it to the point that I would feel complete despair. I told myself that she was just worried because she loves me. Other times she would be very critical or judgemental of what I told her, yet continue to push for more details to critize or judge. Sometimes this would happen in later conversations, not right away, so I didn’t see the pattern. She also demanded to know every detail of my activities, down to the very smallest details. She wanted to know my plans in advance, and would be very angry if I did something like go out for lunch with a friend without telling her first. Note: I am in my late 30s. She always had a very good reason that made her look very loving and caring, like that she was worried about my safety on the icy roads, or just wanted to know where I was so she could think about me being there, but I started to see how those were really just excuses for wanting to know all of my activities, thoughts, feelings, etc. It was when she called one day and asked what I was doing and I answered, “Nothing” and she exploded in anger – “What do you mean, nothing? You’re never doing nothing! Are you sitting or standing? Are you breathing? Are you blinking? TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE DOING!” that I realized there was something wrong, and she was not just interested in my life. She was demanding to know every small detail of everything. Now, I am working towards recovery and can see these things where I couldn’t before. I have set up better boundaries for myself and don’t tell my mom everything, which makes her suffer terribly, she tells me. I’m sure my mom would stalk me on Facebook if she knew how to, just for the thrill that she gets from knowing my business! It would have nothing to do with caring about me. Thanks so much for your post!”
Kera said; “Darlene, I smiled when I saw the title of your latest post. I agree with you. These people who say they want to ‘be a part of your life’ – but don’t care enough about you to treat you with genuine love and respect – have sure got a funny way of showing they ‘care’. They get upset that they don’t get ‘the latest pictures’ or ‘regular updates and visits’ … but, that’s what happens when you do things like: try and manipulate my 3 year old boy into being a part of your triangulation (rather than just handling your issues like a mature adult). Then you don’t get access to my child, because I can’t trust you to respect their right to be a child. He is a person, not a thing you can use to get your way. Thus – no contact. They try and send ‘well wishes’ & flower bouquets on my wedding anniversary – (though, its rather ironic, coming from individuals who tried to convince my husband that I am “a liar, a slanderer, who is manipulating’ him and that he “should not trust” me – words and insinuations that could plant seeds of distrust and wreck a marriage … But ya wanna wish me a happy anniversary? … no thank you. I do not respond to the empty ‘well wishes’. (and I threw away the bouquet, btw) They keep ‘resurfacing’, but never to make things right. It feels more like its to feed their own egos. So that they may continue lying to themselves about their side of things (as though, then they can delusionally tell themselves: “I am ALWAYS SOOOOO nice to them, I even called to say “happy anniversary” … etc. But she is just so cold and unloving that she doesn’t respond to my loving ways) I don’t respond to it, but … when you said: “it gets under my skin” that is right! I am trying to find ways to ‘shake it off’ and move on with my day, when I get contacted by them like that. (I’m finding that it ‘ruins my week’ less … now I hope I can make it to the point that it doesn’t ruin my day.) I would love it, if you have the time in the future – for you to do an article on what to do when your FOO won’t LET you go NC … (i.e. driving slowly in front of your house, leaving manipulative voicemails, triangulating, … etc.) I would LOVE to have some insight into how to cope with this. Thank you for your articles and brave telling of your experiences! Sincerely, KR
Larae said: “I got a call from an Aunt I haven’t heard from in a long time supposedly to tell me about one of my abusers having surgery. Anyway she acted like she totally understood how abusive these other relatives were and I answered a few of her questions about what had happened with them. After I hung up I totally felt like I had just been primed for information from her to take back to my abusers. Perhaps I am just still overly cautious but I just felt like I had been spied upon by the other abusive relatives through her. So hard to tell. I don’t want to make wrong accusations but don’t ever want to not trust my feelings again either. The confusion about what is the truth and isn’t is hard for me to figure out sometimes. Am i just over reacting because of what happened to me or are some people really that manipulative. I have blocked all my abusers on Facebook so I could feel safer and talking to this relative brought back all my old fear and feelings of unsafety. She complained about being around them but yet is too afraid to stand up to them which makes me uneasy about trusting her. I just want to feel safe again and not worry about what any of them think or say. Thank you Darlene for your always timely articles! Your writing has helped and still is to heal me from my abusive past”.
Amber said: “There’s something very cowardly about this stalking dynamic. The person doing it wants to gather information about you but doesn’t want to face you. They don’t want to address the issues. This brought up an incident I almost forgot about. My mother had gone no contact with her brother. Somehow she found out that he had remarried, and through more information gathering learned that her new sister in law owned a small shop. My mother brought me with her to the shop and anonymously engaged her unsuspecting sister in law in conversation. I felt real creepy during this exchange and couldn’t wait to leave. It’s obvious that my mother wanted information on her brother and his new wife without having to deal with an responses from them. Real creepy!”
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