My name is Tracy Miller. I founded Arlene Miller Creative Writing in memory of my mother Arlene Miller (August 24, 1924-May 10, 2005) to recognize & support all forms of creative expression.
Rising above the psychological scars of bullying: My story
by Tracy Diane Miller
On Friday, May 26, Supernatural actors Jared and Genevieve Padalecki both gave heartfelt speeches before the Texas House and Senate in support of David’s Law, a bill to combat cyberbullying. For people who know the Padaleckis, these compassionate souls are no strangers to lending their hearts, their celebrity, their resources and their talents to worthwhile causes like ending the stigma surrounding mental illness and championing for individual and human rights.
I’ve been a fan of both actors for over a decade. I first saw Jared as the “original” Dean in “Gilmore Girls” and was enamored by Genevieve’s performances as horse lover and young woman with a troubled past Kris Furillo in “Wildfire.” But the crux of the Padaleckis appearance to advocate for this crucial legislation wasn’t to flaunt their celebrity status; rather, it was as concerned parents and citizens. The Padaleckis are leaving a legacy of compassion, hope and kindness for their three children. In my book, there is no greater hero than that.
In the harshest of terms, Cyberbullying is a killer. It is insidious. It waits to inflict pain and rejoices in malice.
In their speeches, Jared and Genevieve courageously related their own experiences at being bullied. Their words resonated with me. For the last few days, I debated about sharing my story about the psychological scars of bullying. My first thought: Who wants to hear from a 51 year old woman? My second thought: I’ve shared some aspects about my life, but by social media standards, I’m an anomaly. I’m a person who is on social media who has no desire to be social, who doesn’t get excited by the number of followers, who doesn’t follow that many people. My sole purpose for being on social media is to write and to foster creative artistry. Like I said, I’m an anomaly.
I choose to be invisible on social media for the most part. Yes, I write poetry daily for others. I write endless articles and book reviews. I write books. But I protect my heart (whenever I can) by choosing to be invisible.
But you know who found me? The cyberbullies.
They came. They saw. And they thought that they conquered me.
What they did was add to my psychological scars. But conquer me? Not quite. I’m still here. I’m still alive.
I’ve suffered from clinical depression for 27 years. Most days, I’m not nearly as appreciative to wake up in the morning as I should be. Admittedly, I have an unhealthy obsession with the past. As selfishly as it sounds, if there were such thing as a time machine, I would travel to the 1980s when I was optimistic about life and most importantly, when my mother was still alive. I would travel back in time with Stacy. Then I would break that time machine and I would NEVER come back to 2017. In addition to being an idiotic, unrealistic, it is a very selfish desire. But I do hurt for so much of the time that the past has always been more preferable to me than the present.
Insomnia is my lot most of the time. Yet, when I do dream,my dreams are the BEST. My mother is alive. I talk to her. I touch her. I feel her skin (I love touching her so much in my subconscious because it FEELS SO REAL!)
Enter the cyberbullies. These anonymous cowards who bizarrely love using Twitter icon pictures and user names with Supernatural actors and characters and who enjoy coming into my blog with comments like: “Kill yourself”, “Who cares about your dead mother”, “We are sick of hearing about your dead mother”, “Go back to your own country” (NEWS FLASH: I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN). These comments are more often than not laced with profanity and usually to hammer down their points, they love throwing the “n” word in there for good measure.
I’m not a statue. Whereas I won’t ever give anyone the power over me nor the satisfaction of seeing me cry in public, I’m very hurt by these comments. What is probably the strangest thing to me are that some of these people are likely Supernatural fans and people who profess to support Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting mission, yet have no problem writing hate filled comments like “kill yourself” or racist comments like “go back to your own country.”
What is even more inexplicable is that I’m not someone who is in Supernatural fandom. Some people might be puzzled to hear me say that. Yes, I write articles and published a Supernatural episode poetry book containing over 240 poems for every episode for Seasons 1 through Season 11. I’ve interviewed many of the Supernatural actors. I will always support the cast and crew in their endeavors on and off the show. But I just can’t do the fandom thing. Full disclosure: While I’ve met some wonderful Supernatural fans who are compassionate, creative and intelligent people, the bulk of the ones who have taken it upon themselves to interact with me on my blogs represent what is ugly about society.
In November, 2016, I was incredibly excited about FINALLY meeting Jared Padalecki for the first and only time at the Supernatural convention in Burbank. I stupidly tweeted my excitement (yes, stupidly because usually I don’t advertise many of the upcoming events in my life). I even did a “countdown to BurCon.” I now cringe when I think of myself doing that countdown. Countdowns to conventions work for others, but I should have realized how unTracy that was. When health reasons prevented me from getting to meet Jared, I was crushed. All I wanted was to meet Jared just once in person, give him the Always Keep Fighting poetry book that I wrote honoring him and others and published on 7/19/16, and to say “thank you” to him. Subsequently, I was off social media for almost a month and I had seriously considered never coming back.
My twin sister Stacy (who is 45 minutes older than me and who definitely is the protective “older” sister) was and continues to be my rock. I have had suicidal thoughts. I have made suicidal plans more than once. But I Kept Living for one crucial reason and her name is Stacy because I HAD to, I HAD to find a way to live with my pain because I couldn’t intentionally leave her alone in this world without me. You can call it whatever you like but only Stacy and I know how much we have survived (especially post-2005) as a team. We were a team in utero and we have been a team for over a half century.
The cyberbullies rejoiced that “the moron”(their more repeatable word for me) didn’t get to meet Jared at BurCon. How do I know? Because they told me. Cyberbullies have rejoiced in pain since the beginning of the Internet. But there were also some people who phoned Stacy and emailed me to ask if there was anything they could do. These people were genuine in their concern. I know who these genuine people are and they are the ones who I won’t ever forget.
Before the birth of cyberbullies, there were just bullies who didn’t have the luxury of prowling around the Internet to inflict their venom. When I was young these were the bullies who pushed me down the stairs, put tacks in my chair, made fun of my clothes and where I lived. Poverty, in their eyes, was synonymous with being worthless. In the 1980s, these bullies “graduated” to the use of something called “Slam Books.” But even with their brand of cruelty, at least you knew who the bullies were.
How do I survive the psychological scars of bullying? I write. Even though I choose to be somewhat invisible on social media, I will continue to write just as I will continue to champion creative artistry and promote other authors.
About meeting Jared Padalecki? YES! I will FINALLY get to meet him at a Supernatural convention sometime in the future. This time around I’ve wisely learned my lesson. I’m not announcing which convention I’m attending. I plan to be “invisible girl” in that sea of convention goers where no one will have any inkling that I’m there. I will meet Jared. I will give him my Always Keep Fighting poetry book. I will finally say thank you to him in person. And then, I will disappear.
Happiness for me is now but an unattainable illusion. I remember how it felt to be happy and those are the memories that sustain me. From now on until the day I die, I choose to live exclusively on gratitude.
And you know what? That’s more than enough.