Writing this story is hard to do.
I’m not going to lie and act like I wasn’t tempted to keep this secret in the shadows.
But I also won’t lie and say that typing these words isn’t a relief.
Furthermore, holding this secret in - that wasn’t mine in the first place - felt dirty. It feels dirty.
And how many times have we kept the secrets of our abusers? How many bullies get away with what they've done, because other's are afraid to face the same bullying?
I'm really sick of that gross feeling, that I've done something wrong, and the natural inclination to hide things away - actions that weren't even mine at all. Hiding these secrets away benefits abusers and it makes it safe for them to continue abusing.
As a writer, and with my website here, I really wasn't so sure that I wanted to write an article of this ilk. I write about spirituality and Ableism. And yes, what I write is real, and it's truthful and it's authentic and ... ALL of that. But publishing this article is different. But at the same time, I've vowed to tell the capital 'T' TRUTH in my business and in my writing. That's what good writing IS.
But I really didn't want to. Like. Really really didn't want to. I still don't want to. It's 10:30 pm, and I've got to publish tonight, yet here I am, making this article longer in an attempt to procrastinate it's inevitabliity.
How do journalists decide to publish their stories? Do some of the stories get published and some left on the cutting room floor?
As a writer, how can I know which stories to tell?
And then I thought about what the job of a journalist is - it’s simply to report the truth. The reader or the watcher decides whether it’s news worthy, whether it was helpful - or not.
And… how many times have you watched the news & said - "That reporter is a real drama queen."
None? Yea. I can’t think of many reporters that I think are straight up drama queens either. Except for that one lawyer true crime sensationalist lady. That’s about it.
So with that, I decided to simply tell you my story. You can decide whether it’s helpful, whether it’s newsworthy, whether it was worth telling or not.
Because I’m tired of holding onto other people’s secrets.
** And most of all, because I don’t want other disabled or marginalized people like me, being harmed by similar behaviors as those that I've experienced.
I write this, after spending two months trying to understand what I feel is a great injustice.
But in the end, I don’t feel there’s much to understand, because bullying and character assassination are quite simple. So simple in fact, that third graders do it.
The editor of the online magazine, Verbal Remedy, Bridgette, didn’t like that I called out the Ableist image on an article that was posted on a mutual friends personal facebook page.
My comments weren't meant as an attack towards her, the writer, or even her magazine. I was simply educating my friend, who asked on her personal facebook post TO be educated about Ableism. So I let her know, tactfully, that even the image on the article she posted was a common Ableist stereotype.
It was only a few moments before the editor of Verbal Remedy however, Bridgette, took offense at me calling out the Ableist stereotyping. And since then, Bridgette and Verbal Remedy have retaliated against me professionally and defamed me to other writers.
There’s not much more to this situation, other than the editor of Verbal Remedy, Bridgette,
would rather have Ableist images on her activist magazine,
than listen to a disabled person about Ableism.
Here's what happened.
Two months ago, a facebook friend of mine, Skyler, posted a Verbal Remedy article about disability on her facebook wall. Skyler published with the article, her expressed wish to learn more about Ableism so that she can be a better ally in the future to those with disabilities. I’ve watched her interactions online for quite a few months, and I felt comfortable enough with her level of maturity, to write a comment saying, well, I’m a writer about Ableism in the spiritual field, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have, just message me.
I had read the article that she had linked, which I’ll link here. While this article does have good points in it, I did notice that the author had used a picture of a man in a wheelchair to illustrate ‘disability,' yet the author himself is not in a wheelchair.
In my efforts to educate Skyler about Ableism, I also said, in my comments: well, as an example, this article even, uses a picture of a person in a wheelchair to illustrate the concept of ‘disablity.'
Yet, always showing 'disability' as a picture of a person in a wheelchair, makes the lives of people with chronic illnesses who’s disabilities are invisible, extremely difficult. People with invisible illness are constantly harrassed about disabled parking spots, as one small example of how this stereotype about wheelchairs is harmful. In reality, the majority of disabilities are actually invisible. The wheelchair stereotype, is actually the exception to the rule.
I didn’t think much of my comments, and honestly didn’t mean much by comments, beyond simply to educate Skyler about Ableism, since she admittedly wanted to learn more about it.
Within just a few minutes however, the editor of the magazine, Verbal Remedy, Bridgette, was on the thread, and told me, the magazine didn’t choose this image for this article, the disabled writer of the article chose this image.
I informed Verbal Remedy/Bridgette that I was not meaning to silence another person with disabilities’ viewpoint, only to educate about Ableism.
Bridgette then asked me if I would like to submit my writing to her magazine on the subject of Ableism as she said she had a very liberal publishing guidelines.
I told Bridgette that I would consider doing so and thanked her. And I also complimented her magazine, as I’d been reading the articles in Verbal Remedy for a few months and liked them.
At the same time, I recieved an inbox message from Skyler, apologizing profusely for posting the article, and asking me to forgive her. Honestly, I’m used to Ableist stereotypes, it wasn’t a big deal to me. Of course I forgave her, and said, just poke around on my website and you’ll learn plenty about New Age Illness Shaming and Ableism. I recommended she download my Body Positivity Cheat Sheet Dos & Don’ts for the spiritual field. She did & thanked me.
Then, Skyler asked if I might want to write a guest post for her blog. I was flattered & excited, because I had admired her work from afar, and now, I’d get to write ‘with’ her in a sense. Yay! I pretty much thought this was a win, especially with Skyler, my facebook friend.
Of course, how freaking awkward was that though - that the editor of the magazine Verbal Remedy/Bridgette, got all defensive about my comments on my friends personal facebook page.
Of course I stand by my comments, but my intention was not a critique of the article, the author, nor the magazine. If that had been my intention, I’d have simply emailed Verbal Remedy directly. So her jumping on my friends thread and getting defensive over the wheelchair image, was just kind of ridiculous honestly. But, me and my friend were all good, so that’s all that mattered. Or so I thought…..
So a few days later, the Verbal Remedy writer’s group popped up as a suggested group on facebook. I clicked ‘join,’ since the editor of Verbal Remedy, Bridgette, despite things being awkward, had asked me to submit my writing to Verbal Remedy. I hadn’t considered writing for them before her invite, but now I was considering it, so I joined the group thinking, oh what the hell. If I’m going to submit…..
Verbal Remedy writer’s group accepted the join request & added me to the group. I watched & read the posts & stuff, getting an idea of what’s going on, how they do things, and brainstorming to myself of what types of articles I can write for them possibly. I was just observing how things were done for about a week.
I got back to Skyler during this time & let her know that I’d read the fine print she’d sent over for guest blogging and I’d get back to her if it was a good fit for us both.
I had briefly considered reaching out to Skyler at that time & apologizing about how awkward it was that the editor, Bridgette took offense and made such a big deal on her post about what I’d said.
Ultimately, I decided not to write to Skyler clearing the air, or apologizing, bc I felt, since Bridgette said I should submit to her magazine, and was acting nice and had even accepted me into the VR writing group, that I should just let sleeping dogs lay, and not stir things up by writing to Skyler and apologizing for any unintended awkwardness.
So about 10 days goes by of me being in the VR writers group, and I get a PM from Bridgette the editor of Verbal Remedy magazine.
In this PM, she told me that she had convened a meeting with all her other editors at VR, and they had all talked about me joining the VR group, and she said they’d read & discussed the writing on my website, and felt that ‘that’ isn’t what they wanted at their magazine. Bridgette let me know that they ‘had to ensure their other writer’s safe space,’ and so therefore, that I had been removed from the Verbal Remedy writer's group.
Basically, Bridgette was saying that me being in the VR writing FB group, that they couldn’t ensure their writers ‘safe space’ with me there, and therefore, I was removed from the VR writing group.
How exactly I was threatening other writers’ ‘safe space,’ I couldn’t say. Except there was some heavy eye rolling on my part while reading this.
I said, ok, well with respect, can I ask what about my writing was resulting in me being removed from the VR writing group? She said that I did not share the same values as her magazine because I talked about healing & spirituality.
So then I asked, well, how do you know what I would write for your magazine, if I haven’t actually submitted any writing to the magazine??
Then she referenced my views on disability that I had voiced on Skylers post, and that those views about disability weren’t in alignment with the magazine’s views on disability.
After that? I was just done. I didn’t even bother responding to her.
For the record, my views I expressed on Skyler's post about disability are:
that always placing a stereotypical image of a 'disabled' person in a wheelchair to portray 'disability' is an Ableist stereotype, and a very widespread mistake that is a disservice to the disabled community.
So I'm confused, since, in my opinion,
an ‘activist’ magazine should be on board with fighting Ableist stereotypes, and NOT portraying them.
In frustration, I looked up the writer of the original article.
I figured, well, maybe he got pissed off and complained to the editor. Because I really could think of no other reason why out of the blue, I got such a shitty and personally insulting email from the editor.
From his facebook page, I could see that he had a disability, but was not in fact, in a wheelchair.
So, he actually picked an image of a person in a wheelchair to portray 'disability' in his article, yet he was not even in a wheelchair.
So I was left at the time, really wondering to myself, what kind of ‘activist’ magazine believes in stereotyping disabled people,
and then when that stereotype is pointed out to them, the magazine does nothing to address it.
And then, instead of addressing the issue of the magazine portraying Ableist stereotypes about disabled people,
the magazine instead goes on to persecute me as a disabled person, and bar me from submitting my writing to them.
Verbal Remedy went so far as to hold a meeting with other writers about me, wherein my writing on my website was discussed (& likely ripped to shreds).
Then, Verbal Remedy sent me the psuedo-polite letter,
to inform me that I’m kicked out of the Verbal Remedy Writers group that they let me in, just a week ago.
And also, Verbal Remedy/Bridgette says in her letter to me,
that I’m ‘threatening’ to other people’s ‘safe space’ for reasons she never even disclosed.
So basically, Verbal Remedy/Bridgette let me know that I’m basically
barred and pre-emptively kicked out of even submitting my writing to her magazine -
an invitation she’d previously extended and now is taking back again —
….even though I hadn’t actually even submitted any writing, so how could she know what type of writing I would submit.
So, two months later, (yesterday), I was still trying to understand what about my writing about Ableism and what about ME, was so offensive, that warranted being:
literally kicked out a group I’d never even uttered one word in,
kicked out of a magazine which I’d never submitted my writing to,
Being told that I’m a threat to other writers’ ‘safe space,’
Because of Verbal Remedy/Bridgette’s actions, the invitation for me guest blogging on Skyler’s website was also rescinded as well.
Not to mention, all of the other writers that were witness in the meeting where they 'discussed my writing,' and the professional damage that did to me as a writer by defaming me.
Let it be known that I have no interest in a relationship with Verbal Remedy/Bridgette, due to the passive-aggressive and defamatory way that she chose to handle my comments about disability,
and ironically, for kicking me out of her ‘activist’ magazine,
and then ostracizing me professionally, for speaking out about disability on a friends facebook post.
Two months later, I would like to know:
What did Verbal Remedy/Bridgette think that I was going to write, that would be so inappropriate, or that would be so off-putting? What are they so scared that I'll write?
Did they feel powerless to stop my writing?
Did I threaten Verbal Remedy/Bridgette's 'safe space' or otherwise engage in aggressive behavior that was harmful towards them? If so, how?
I would love to know the answers to these questions,
because I was essentially kicked out of 3 separate places in a matter of 10 days, most brutally, I might add,
after my innocent (yet in hindsight naive) interaction about disability education on a friend’s facebook post.
I would like to know what I did that was so egregious so as to warrant this treatment?
I honestly don’t know, and will change my behavior if something I’ve done is truly that bad, yet I’ve been unable to get any clear answers on this.
Also, what was said about me to Skyler, to make me guest blog posting such a no-go? Because all of our interactions were uneventful. So what happened to make my guest blog posting evaporate?
Was she simply scared to be associated with me, for fear of meeting the wrath of Verbal Remedy/Bridgette (a magazine that she writes for often)?
I have to assume that Skyler agrees with Verbal Remedy/Brigettes assessment of my character and of my writing, since my guest blogging was rescinded.
I would sincerely love to know what about my disability advocacy work is so offensive or inappropriate or threatens people’s safe space at Verbal Remedy.
However, I think I already know the answer - I stepped on the editors toes and she didn’t like it.
So she retaliated against me professionally and behind my back I might add - like a third grader.
I write this article as a warning to other writers and disability advocates out there,
that Verbal Remedy/Bridgette are NOT our allies in the fight against Ableism,
and if they will silence my voice as a disabled writer, they will silence yours too.
In Big Big Love,