Social media is a funny thing. When I first started using Facebook, it was 2007, and I was deployed to Kosovo with my National Guard unit.
You get close with the people with whom you deploy. We had units from all over the country, including Massachusetts, Texas, and Puerto Rico. After spending close to a year and a half together, you make and cement friendships, you learn about one another, and you help one another. You become a family.
That’s why many of us got Facebook accounts – to keep in touch, to share our lives beyond deployment, and to continue nurturing those bonds we developed at Camp Bondsteel.
I did not know at the time what Facebook would become. The subsequent bonds came in spurts, so to speak. A lot of my old friends from high school joined, and we connected even though we hadn’t seen one another in more than a decade. Then, college friends found one another. Then old buddies from AFN-Europe – both military and civilian. I found old colleagues from former jobs, fellow fighters in the gun rights movement, and even some friends from my elementary school in the former USSR! That one is a joy.
When friends you have known for a long time recommend you become “friends” with someone in the virtual world, you develop a whole new set of connections. You share your experiences, expertise, and views with a whole new set of people, whom you’ve never met in real life, but into whose lives you all of a sudden have an amazing amount of insight. You become real friends, even though you have never met in real life. I often shake my head at the amount of personal details folks shoot into cyber space. I was never a fan, because so many predators exist out there, who are looking for their next victim. And yet, here I am – blogging about the very personal, very frightening, very real and traumatic experience of possibly losing my house. Here I am getting emotional and very tangible support from readers who love this blog, and who enjoy reading my sometimes jumbled thoughts. I never asked for financial support, and yet, here you are – hitting the “Donate” button – giving your earnings to a person you’ve never met, so she could get a beer or have a little peace of mind – offering words of encouragement and advice. My gratitude knows no bounds, you guys. I am so humbled by and grateful for your friendship!
The Internet makes you feel like you’re not alone. Sharing those personal details – both on Facebook, here, and on This Ain’t Hell, where the wonderful Jonn Lilyea shared my story with the community of vets and supporters there whom I have grown to know and love, and the majority of whom I’ve never met in person, made me feel like they we’re in it with me.
Two friends and partners in the gun rights battle emailed me and told me they were giving me a loan. One percent interest. Pay us back when you can. I protested, because I could not possibly know when I would be able to repay them, and because borrowing money from friends… They insisted. They love me, they said. They wanted to offer me some peace of mind, they said. When I finally do meet them in real life, I’m not sure there will be a hug big enough, strong enough, or long enough to express my gratitude for their love, friendship, and generosity! My plan is to put that money in savings and not touch it unless it really hits the fan, and I wind up homeless or the Redhead has nothing to eat. And once the fiasco with the thieving child molester and his lying, hypocritical wife is over, I will return the lump sum plus interest and more. Because I love them for the reassurance and peace of mind they have given me.
A friend of a friend, whom I’ve never met, contacted me the night before last – when I was at the height of my despair – when I was weeping every few minutes, because a twisted pair consisting of a child rapist and a lying, sociopathic shrew, David and Pamela Cooper, stole my house with the help of a judge, who is supposed to uphold justice, but instead enabled theft – made me lose hope. She asked if I would mind if she started a fundraiser for me. I balked at first. Even though the thought of losing the house I worked for, and possibly my job, was terrifying, the thought of good, kind, people giving me money so I could pay for this child raping scum to live in my house free of charge was and is morally abhorrent. But the legal bills in this fight would no doubt mount, and while I’ve heard great things about the attorney who was helping us with the filings and giving us some legal advice on this matter, I would never expect him to work for free. So we compromised. Amanda – a beautiful, intelligent, kind woman I met on Facebook through a mutual friend, and whom I have never met in real life, set up a fundraiser on GoFundMe, and specified that this money would only be used for legal expenses – and not to keep a “man” convicted of carnal knowledge of a minor and his sociopath wife living rent-free on my property.
I have to tell you, I’m overwhelmed by the response. Not only friends and acquaintances, but complete strangers, anonymous individuals, poured money into this effort! To date Amanda has raised more than $2200 – more than enough to put an attorney on retainer – in one day. In. One. Day. To some, it may not seem like a lot, but to me, it is the world, folks. I’m a writer. It’s what I do for a living. And, yet, I cannot properly express my gratitude to each and every person who contributed to this effort. Frankly, it’s the last thing I expected, because I lost faith in anything and everything that was just and good in this world. But here you are – some of you complete strangers, while others I only know from the online world of political discussions and cat memes, coming to my aid and giving me hope.
It’s hard to breathe through this much emotion!
This isn’t the first time people whose hand I’ve never had the pleasure of shaking gave me a hand up. When Mac got sick last year, friends and family came to her rescue and helped me pay for her medical care. When she died, I sent the remainder of your generous gifts to a homeless pets charity. When unexpected expenses for the best of me, beautiful individuals stepped in and handed me support. Just like that. With no strings attached and no demands. Because they could. I don’t forget that kind of friendship, and I pay it forward when I can – and sometimes when I can’t – because that’s how you are supposed to act. That’s what you’re supposed to do.
When I was terrified of spending yet another $300+ on H&R Block at tax season, my friend, former Marine, fellow veteran Dave Hardin convinced me (he’s hard to say no to – he’s about as stubborn as I am) to use his CPA firm. The Accounting Firm (simple, elegant name) and the amazing Karen Hardin did my taxes via phone in just a few minutes. Taxes were filed. Refund was due. Through some kind of strike of horrid luck or bureaucratic insanity, refund didn’t happen. Karen spent hours on true phone with the IRS, filed additional paperwork, and continues to hammer them to return my money. No one charged me a dime. I had a large print made of a photo of a dogwood flower I took. I sent it to Karen as a token of my gratitude. Dave will get booze and a dance when we finally meet in person.
But this… This is overwhelming, you guys. You didn’t just offer words of love and support. You didn’t just give me money. You didn’t just give me hope, although it’s a big thing. You have given me the will to fight this injustice! I may not ever get my house back. I may have to face foreclosure, but I’m not going down without a fight. And it’s all thanks to you.
You, the Internet, have restored hope, and that’s priceless.
Because what kind of world would it be if child molesters, liars, and thieves were allowed to win?