It’s really hard to know where to start when I’m blogging about Andy. I know that, currently, most of the traffic coming here is in reaction to my ex-partner putting down roots in a new fandom. But it must be a hell of a thing for people who don’t already know the whole sordid story. And there’s so many volumes of opinions and versions of stories that I don’t like to repeat myself – which is why I point people to the blogs I’ve already written.
This is a particularly difficult one to write. It’s messy, both logically and emotionally. Nothing is ever simple with Andy, who has used me in his backstories (you know, that whole “his son? a sparrow! thing) and dismisses this as “…a really bad relationship that ended six years ago and a fandom scandal from ten years ago.” As if that was all that happened. As if nothing happened between Bit of Earth and now. As if I’m just another bitter ex, carrying out some twisted vendetta. And it gets to me, damn it. I hardly ever think of him unless I start getting hits from sites with “lol” and “wank” in their urls. I don’t want to turn into what Turimel used to be, or to stir up drama for drama’s sake.
I saved a file box of notes, letters, pictures and things that Andy made me over the years. Much like my feelings about this entire experience, it is neatly packed and easily accessible, but I don’t open it very often. At first I kept them for nostalgia’s sake, but later I needed – sometimes still need – to read and touch those letters. And know that not only did it all really happen, it was as fucked up and crazy as I remember it being. Because Andy has achieved almost mythic status in fandom, so naturally it’s easy for the stories to get overblown. And Andy himself showed me just how malleable memories are.
The thing is, it isn’t just gossip. Oh, sure, lots of it is – but that isn’t why I share what I went through either. I talk because other survivors need to hear. Because secrecy is what he hurt us with – Diamond, Little Sam, the ones who have come forward from DAYD – all of us. The secret was the entire point. We had to keep Andy’s abilities secret, and therefore, we could not tell anyone else the truth about anything. Everything had to be screened for outsiders. Can’t tell a story about all the friends you hang out with if, technically, they’re all one fucking person. Always, always pleading that we just not tell, no matter what.
I am not beholden to promises I made to an abuser while still in his power. Because emotional and psychological abuse is every bit as legitimate and damaging as physical abuse. Because families and friends that don’t even use computers have been hurt by Andy’s manipulations, to say the very least. Because wank is funny, but pain is real. And it sucks to have somebody dedicate their life to fucking up the inside of your head.
Also, it is not okay for an almost-thirty year old with a history of emotional manipulation and abuse to invite depressed, suicidal teenagers to call him, and therefore his previous behavior is absolutely relevant. I have no interest in “chasing him off the internet” or “stalking” him, but the only way I feel comfortable, ethically, is to speak up when he is setting off so many red flags.
Now, one might make a fairly compelling argument about Andy’s right to privacy. Certainly, Andy paints himself as an unfairly exposed martyr.
I have never pretended to be any form of saint. I have been very open that I have struggled with mental illness and a lot of personal demons in the past, and that it has left a lot of ugliness in my wake, but that I am treated now and reconciled with anyone who was interested in reconciling with me. Beyond that, my medical history is my own business, and those who would breech the privacy of what they do know, much less those who would speculate and present that as fact may fuck right off. I have also been open that there are still many people who hate me wildly; some fairly, some not.
This is a fairly ingenious defense, as it appeals to the fears pretty much everyone has about their privacy being compromised on the internet. But there’s one problem: Andy doesn’t deserve that level of privacy. And neither do I.
We did bad things, he and I. We lied to many, many people. We fucked up big time. It doesn’t matter in the slightest who was the leader and who the follower for this, because we both lied. In text, over the phone, and in person, to people who loved us and trusted us completely. We lied on the internet. We lied on message boards. We betrayed people’s trust in so many ways. When you lie on that level? You kind of waive your “right to privacy” about things that are relevant to the lies you told. Especially if you appear to be repeating the pattern of behavior.
If Andy was just living his life? Nobody would care. But he not only came back into the public eye; he’s built a massive, insular fandom (that is celebrating its fifth anniversary) and, to say the least, is actively courting followers. He’ll talk openly about his “personal, medical and mental health information” when it serves to make him seem more sympathetic, more victimized, etc., and tells grandiose stories about himself and his life, but when these things he is publicly posting are not true – and he’s called on it, it’s back to “it isn’t your business and anyway, it was forever ago.”
And, at least when we were together, Andy fully understood this. As soon as Bit of Earth exploded, we started making deliberate choices because we knew that this would follow us forever. Of course Andy used his real name and information in his new online life, because it would follow him. Google may forgive, but it doesn’t forget. All of his “future plans” for us took the “bad press” into account, all facts carefully spun to our advantage and the stories ready for those times when someone had read “teh book.”
And after all that…I haven’t even told a fraction of the things he did. Not to me, not to Diamond or Little Sam, not to the ones who aren’t ready to tell their stories. Or the ones who will never be able to talk. So much pain, so much damage, so fucked up. It isn’t even funny; it’s sick and sad like so much of this entire story. And it’s mine to carry – unless I share it.