I try to keep my posts light-hearted and fun-loving. I like to showcase my vocabulary, wit, and dry sense of sarcasm. I like to express my quirky, odd humor, and say things that would make my BFF laugh out loud. But today my heart is burdened.
I struggle as much as you do, but there is a fine line between being honest and putting yourself out there and being one of those emo, suicidal-seeming weird-o Internet posters. I refuse to be the latter. But, every now and then, something consumes me so much that I feel I need to express it just to get it off my heart.
Remember when I opened up about my mom's cancer? That was a dark time for me, and it took me more than two years to finally open up about it. What about when I told you about my new life plan? After the scrutiny I'd endured in my former small-town home, it took a lot to open up about the true love I finally found. Oh, and what about when my book got published?! I was excited that my dream had finally come true; that I was going to be an author. Nevermind the negative criticism I got for Life as She Knew It, it was mine, and no one could take that from me.
There are three types of people in my world: the ones who have no idea where I've been, the ones who THINK they know EVERYTHING (aka the Gossip Queens), and the FEW who KNOW where I've been. I'm not here to make you a member of the latter group, but I just feel compelled to share what's bogging me down today.
Have you ever overcome something so evil and so sinister that you felt like you were on top of the world, only to be plagued by the treacherous journey months, even years later? That's where I find myself today. I walked through the fire. I survived. Yet the scars still exist. I still see them from time-to-time. I still feel them from time-to-time.
Parts of me don't even want to divulge what I'm enduring, for fear the perpetrator reads my blog and might take the smallest amount of delight in my misery. |But part of me loves exposing The Beast for what it really is, which I intend to do in a serious series of posts hereby dubbed "The Beast" series.
The Beast, if you're not aware, is a former boss of mine. It's also a Biblical reference to the Anti-Christ, and though my church-going is nearly non-existent these days, I firmly believe The Beast, if it's not THE Anti-Christ, belongs to his minions.
Let me introduce you to my world for more than nine long, horrible months of my life, and I will still only be able to scratch the tiniest surface:
My troubles seemingly began (you'll learn later the troubles went much deeper and much farther back than I had conscious knowledge of) when I created an alternate MySpace page (this was back when MySpace was IT). Since I was getting SO many requests from students, and since, as a teacher, I felt it was inappropriate to share my personal thoughts and adult interactions with said students, I created a "Mrs." page where I posted updates such as, "Go Cats! Football tonight!" or "English I don't forget your vocab test tomorrow!" I had no messages, I had no awkward comments, and the profile was public, so anyone could see it. Students left comments to me, they responded to each other, they asked about homework and essays and things like that. I found it to be a great avenue.
Much. To. My. Demise.
It wasn't long before The Beast gave us a speech about the "dangers" of online communication with students (which is still a debted issue today), and forbade us to have any type of social page, MUCH LESS add students to it. Was this a meeting for the masses? Nope. It was a speech directed SPECIFICALLY at me.
I was what you'd call a "popular" teacher in my day, though I'm still not sure why. I was a rule stickler. I assigned a lot of work. I wasn't really one of those "let's do nothing" kind of teachers (until May at least he he). But for whatever reason my kids always started the year hating me and ended it loving me. Always. The Beast didn't like this.
So I went home that day feeling disappointed and guilty and deleted the MySpace, as was suggested in the meeting. My last status was something that let everyone know the account was being removed, because teachers were told we were not to have any students on social network pages. I knew they couldn't force us to delete our personal page as long as we didn't have students on it, and there was NO WAY I was getting rid of my MySpace and Facebook. I did my best to contol who could see it, and went about my business.
The fact that we were told not to have students as "friends" wasn't really the issue. Although I did like having that avenue, it wasn't a big deal to delete it. What bothered me more is what unfolded in the weeks to come.
The "policy" we were informed of about social networks was not in our handbook. It was not made a board policy. Therefore, it could be enforced or overlooked as The Beast saw fit. When I began looking at some of the other young teachers' (and some of the older ones) Facebook pages (it was gaining popularity then) later in the year, I saw a multitude of students, even MINOR students, on those pages. And these were the teachers' personal pages, where the interacted with their own friends and vented about school issues.
Double standard? Kind of. We're going to refer to it from now on as the Andrea-Standard. A standard created ONLY for me.
Several weeks after the meeting, and after having deleted my Mrs. MySpace, another teacher from my department came to me.
"I need to talk to you," he said.
"Great. What now?" I said, rolling my eyes. He usually brought bad news or gossip from The Beast.
"It said you have a MySpace with students on it, and It's unhappy about it," he confided.
"I HAD one. I was never told that we couldn't do that. I had even created one that was school-related so there were no lines crossed, but when It told us not to in that meeting one day, I deleted it that afternoon."
"Really? Well It just asked me to talk to you about it," he said, implying this conversation had been SINCE the meeting.
"Yep really. And if IT has concerns, as my boss, shouldn't IT address those with me? Not go talk to another teacher about it and ask him to do Its dirty work? That's so unprofessional."
"You would think," he said. "I think It's just looking for things," he confided. I stood there wondering how It even knew I had the page. It had to have seen it weeks before, which meant It was most likely looking for me and stumbled upon the page (this is before I found out about the student spys, which is another post in itself). Either way, I considered it a lot of work just to "check up" on me.
"Oh. So It's spying on me AND gossiping about me, rather than doing its job. Great."
The Beast never did bring this issue up with me. It was, in fact, only mentioned once, and that's when I threw it back at The Beast in The Meeting, which you'll learn more about toward the end of the series. Things only got worse from there...