How I rebuilt my reputation as a blogger after being humiliated by another blogger

(Or how having a special interest in a person breaks me)

Mid-to-late 2009, I was your worst nightmare. I was unhappy, but in denial about it, and I took it out on a lot of people. I’d also developed a special interest in a particular blogger — and my utmost special interest nightmare is when it is in a person. She was known as a popular blogger, and she’d later become one of my closest blog friends — and, thankfully, no longer a special interest.

But because she was a special interest, I thought she was “on fleek” as teens say these days (do they still say this? did I finally use it right?). Thus, when another blogger caught wind of what an allistic might assume to be infatuation, I felt my whole online life turn upside down.

My teeny-bopper subdomain of a blog publicly dissected by someone seemingly much older than me, and also a potential bully. I mean, I was mean myself, but looking back, I don’t think either of us were in the right.

Others commented on the blog post which held the open review of my blog. I eventually fell into a roller coaster of emotions caused by reading the comments, then by reading the emails sent to my email address which were inspired by the open review. Everything from my favorite color to my faith in God and acceptance of my gay friends was removed from its context and used against me. I was told to kill myself, asked why I felt like I had any right to live, and called a “waste of valuable resources”.

I hated myself. I felt like, even though I’d only graduated a few months prior, I was still in high school, in Newspaper Productions, constantly being bullied by the only male cheerleader because he thought I was lying when I’d casually dropped how I had friends in high places — even a few of who were celebrities.

(Note to self: It’s easier to pretend you don’t know suddenly-famous people — or even somewhat-famous people — the non-famous people are talking about.)

I thought I’d never see the light of day with a blog again.

And then my dad gave to me a prepaid VISA gift card for Christmas 2009, and I registered early February 2010.

I eventually abandoned the domain which housed my blog as a subdomain.

I installed WordPress onto 6birds, shared my new URL with a trusted select few of people, and blogged as if I was new to the scene, but knew what I was doing at least a little. Instead of using my first name, I used Liz, a nickname.

Between 2011 and 2012, my website would be hacked multiple times as I tried to make sense of my own life, living back in an abusive environment.

In 2012, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was working at a major grocery/department store and experiencing slight harassment from my male manager about not only my mental health, but certain women-related health issues which I could not control. I later quit my job and moved in with my grandmother on my dad’s side.

I didn’t start to grasp how to avoid being hacked until 2013. In 2014, search engine optimization (SEO) became a special interest, which I mastered within three months. I touched up on it again in 2015 before realizing most of it is basic practice when putting together a website and the rest is kind of redundant.

I attempted several niche-specific blogs from 2010 until 2016, when I decided a nicheless blog works better for me as an autistic person.

Somehow, I became more self-aware of my differences between non-autistic people. The more I learned how differently allistic people communicate, the more I learned about how certain things I say may be taken. Whereas I think more literally, allistic people tend to spend more time assuming there is more to what was said.

Occasionally, I was dragged into drama I didn’t want to be a part of — someone stole the custom blog theme I’d paid hard-earned cash for, my former guardians registered my previous domain and posed threats aimed towards me on it — but then I learned there are ways to protect myself from this happening.

I learned how to hone my special interests. I learned how to resolve my own website-related issues. I found a supportive community of like-minded bloggers who share similar values. I launched I found things which make me unique and used one of my favorite quotes as motivation to use those unique traits to my advantage:

The things that don’t “fit in” that make you yourself — that is your gift to the world. ~Sharon Stone

If you’re autistic and having a person-as-a-special-interest results in public shame and humiliation: my heart breaks for you. I’ve yet to figure out how to avoid people becoming special interests.

It’s not completely impossible to build your rep back up, though. Maybe the way that will work better for you is abandoning your current online platforms for a completely new one you will nurture and aim to do good with for the next six-and-a-half years until you finally admit, “Oh, by the way — that was me.”