This blog and my online life has reached the end of the line.
I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me with their comments over the life of the blog.
I’ve realised that attempting to be a voice in the public square takes too much emotional energy and I can no longer cope with fall-out.
I am not a professional, I’ve never done this for money, I didn’t join Catholic Voices for the money or for any personal reasons, other than I thought I’d be good at it; on paper it should work, I’m articulate, reasonable and presentable.
In the last few months, I’ve been criticised from every side. From orthodox Catholics for being too liberal and from atheists or members of the LGBT lobby for being too hate-filled.
I’ve had an online stalker, pursing my every move, contacting other Catholic bloggers to dig dirt on me, blogging nasty unpleasant and untrue fantasies, (apparently I always wanted to be a model – anyone) which most people thought seemed the work of a deranged lunatic and who, on being asked to stop, besieged Neil Addison, who was advising me in a private capacity, with 16 unsolicited emails regarding the state of my mental health. When Neil formally wrote to her to tell her actions could be construed as harassment, she publically blogged his letter, went off on several prolonged rants about me and then incited her 4,000 followers to have a go at my feed. All the while, I have had to stay totally silent so as not to incite the situation further. She sporadically threatens me with the police for some imagined offence or other. She claims that the police are on the verge of arresting me and protecting her from me. As many know, the truth is somewhat different. But being under constant threat of being reported to the police for something you haven’t done, and wondering what is going to trigger another outburst, naming me and ranting away, resulting in tweets asking me to leave her alone, when I’ve done absolutely nothing, takes its toll. Particularly on someone who is in the early stages of a difficult pregnancy with all the hormones involved. Obviously some people forget what it is like to feel pregnant and vulnerable.
Her narrative, “Caroline plays the victim and has a track record for mental health problems” has fed into today’s attack. This is not my being paranoid. When attempting to discredit me earlier for being a hardline unreasonable fundamental zealot, this tweeter noted “she is a nutter with a proven track record of mental health problems”. I have no such history and I object to being smeared in the same manner and with the same malevolence as the targets of Johann Hari.
A comment today tells me that I am a poor representative for Catholic Voices, I should not spend time on Twitter. Apparently I am a hypocrite for trying to unite all sides, for “cosying up to James Preece, Laurence England and Paul Priest”.
I spend time on Twitter for the same reason many do. A bit of interaction with the real world, interspersed with looking after my children who aren’t always capable of giving great feedback. I spend most of the day with a baby and a toddler, my mobile phone is the odd distraction – I don’t buy papers.
Even at time of typing this, I can see someone on Twitter is inciting more trolling, saying “she is blondpidge, have fun”. After two whole months of what feels like unprecedented abuse, I’ve had enough, I’ve reached saturation point.
It just seems wholly pointless. Traditional Catholics think I’m too liberal, everyone else thinks its fine to shout abuse and call names, without ever engaging in the points I have to make. Apparently I am a bigot who hides behind my faith, but no-one can actually tell me where I have shown any hatred or intolerance for other people.
None of the Catholics who attacked me for being too liberal have stood up for me today. The Catholic blogosphere seems to be for Catholics only, whereas what I have tried and failed to do is to take the debate into the public square.
Over the last 18 months I have been called every name under the sun and just expected to take it, that’s the price for putting your views out there. I never expected validation, but I never expected the unprecedented amounts of hatred and abuse either.
So trolls and bullies you’ve won. I can’t take it any more. You have to be made of hardier stuff than me if you want to be a Catholic on the internet. Or, you have to keep your mouth shut and your head down. Woe betide you if you actually dare to defend any of the stuff that you might believe in with people who aren’t Catholic. Other Catholics get by, simply by not engaging in the neuralgic issues. They talk about Catholic social teaching with each other, but don’t bother with the world at large. Perhaps if Catholics want to take a look at my timeline and those of the others involved, they will see what actually happens if you dare to use the theological language of the Catechism, even if it is in public conversation with another Catholic.
When I’m at the stage, where my head is literally banging from spending hours crying, when a false accusation “you LIE, apologise now”, repeated more than once, not followed up by anything resembling an apology, only a “oh sorry, I was mistaken”, after attempting to prove otherwise see there I go again, victim mode again, but as I said, this stuff hurts, when my husband is in tears at how his “lovely, gentle wife, who would do anything for anyone, is beside herself” when I literally don’t know what to do with myself, when I think I’ve failed, failed God, failed Christ, because all people can do is scream and shout hatred in my ears and tell me that I am insane I’ve had enough. When people watch me cry and laugh at my distress, “lol, I saw her posts, 18 paragraphs of victimhood lol” then I’ve had enough. When a prominent Christian blogger seems to have bought into this narrative, despite being assured by those in the know that I am not guilty of whatever it is he seems to be accusing me of and spends 48 hours publically accusing me, despite others telling him to stop, I’ve had enough. When my anger at the sheer injustice of this and my upset prevents me from sleeping and starts to affect my prayer life, I’ve had enough. When someone says, “I won’t allow her to affect my view of dozens of loving Christians”, despite the fact that at least one shares identical views to me, then clearly I’ve failed as I’ve not communicated myself as being decent, loving or Christian. That is perhaps what upsets me the most.
I’d still be honoured to write the odd feature for the Catholic Herald or other publications as and when the opportunities present themselves. That seems to be the one arena where I have been well-received perhaps because the readership doesn’t automatically view me through the lens of antipathy.
This is how battles are won by activists. By wearing the opponents down. By bullying, berating and discrediting. Someone stronger can do it. I don’t actually have the strength any more. Thanks for listening.