Please leave me out of your “games”

2015-06-21

I said there was no blog this month… Sorry, it turns out one has just come up.

I would like to talk about the politics that seems to be going on online and how disruptive they can be for people like me.  Please bear with me.

In case you haven’t heard, I’m saving up for IVF with the help of my little Cuties and particularly my Dotty.

I make little Cuties for lovely people like you to adopt and I also write stories about Dotty.  Just to make you smile.

It’s important for me to make you smile, because the situation I found myself in, being infertile, isn’t something to smile about.   It isn’t any worse than the situations other poorly people find themselves in but it’s my situation and it’s very real to me.

My medical history is complicated and in a way unfair, it has lead me to suffer with severe depression.

Not something I particularly wanted to share, just like my infertility but I am glad that I did.

I’m glad because I have met some amazing people along the way and the support is humbling.  Grown ups all over the place adopting Cuties and doing everything they can to spread the word for me.

Children also love the Cuties. This is ironic considering I’ve spent the majority of the last few years avoiding children, to spare myself from the heartache that comes with their sweetness.  Being around children usually accentuates my longing for them as silly as that may sound.

Yesterday was Shaun’s birthday and his brother together with his lovely family visited us.

They have four children, three little girls (and a lovely grown up boy) who all love the Cuties, particularly the youngest one.  She came to Dotty’s house.

She is a huge fan of the Cuties, of Dotty and she loves her Cutie, they have the same name and I have made up stories for her to enjoy over the last few weeks.  She’s five years old and cute as a button.  They all are.

It was a last minute visit and therefore I didn’t have the time to think about it too much, in fact I got quite excited about meeting them all for the first time and having some fun with the Cuties.

The day went really well and we had a lot of fun, smiles all around, I got all my craft bits out and after they got over their initial shyness, the fun began.

They all made cards.  Quietest they’ve ever been according to their parents!  They made cards for their mum and dad, telling them how much they loved them and they even made me cards.  It was just lovely.

I was particularly touched by a comment her dad made, he said that her Cutie wasn’t just a Cutie, it was a companion for her.  He is the second person to tell me that this week.

This makes me want to carry on.

There was a moment in the day when everyone was messing around, laughing and screaming, having fun.  I looked at my Mum.  I said: “why can’t I have a full house like this, why can’t this be me? “

It never will be, it’s way too late for me to fill my house up for with lots of children but hopefully with your help I may get to have one eventually… Who knows what the future holds.

Despite speaking to people who are struggling with infertility often, and more recently hearing from a Cuties’ friend that her fifth IVF attempt was unsuccessful I can’t give up hope.

I’ve said before that most people take more than one attempt to get there and I’m still way off having my first go but I have to stay positive.  So I’ll keep being silly with the Cuties.

I took myself out of the room and had a little cry, it’s not hard for me to cry, all I have to do is take off my mask and it pours out of me.

My mum told me that it would be ok so I wiped my tears and got back into it.  I hear the kids loved it.

Today is father’s day.  I’ll never be a father but of course it reminds me that I’m also not a mother.  Will I ever get to hear someone call me mum?

Being online can be exhausting, day in day out, posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the only ones I have time for at the moment.  Tweeting and retweeting, sharing and reading, trying to not forget anyone…  And the response is mixed, nothing negative (until now) it’s 50/50 to be honest.

A handful of my Twitter followers do everything they can to help me, the rest just follow me because they want followers.  On Facebook it’s pretty much always the same people who help me.

I’ve enjoyed Instagram and with the support of the same loyal followers who do their best to share me, my profile is slowly growing on there.

A few of weeks ago I was speaking to an online friend I met when I first started my campaign.  Her name is Michelle.

I was feeling down, I told her that although I felt like I was successful so far, I was still so far off my target and exhausted by the amount of works it take to promote yourself. I felt like I was being ungrateful.

I’m not, I’m HUGELY grateful to every single one of you still reading me and doing what you do for me.

Michelle came up with an idea. She said, have two nights at my hotel and auction them with a Cutie!  Voila!  I couldn’t believe my luck!

My first fundraiser, a chance to add a little extra money to my IVF pot, another amazing person.

I have been fighting the idea of a donation page since I started, I don’t want to beg for money, why should anyone give me money for nothing?

Quite a few people have told me that I should do it.  I’m trying to show you all that despite my limitations mainly due to my depression, I want to do my best to get there by achieving something everyday.

I’m also far too scared of the potential backlash of asking for money.  Maybe I’d get nothing and I just can’t face that.

On average, I would say that I spend about 12 hours a day doing what I do.

Sometimes I “faff around” all day and achieve nothing, other times I have a list I go through and I get lots done.

Some weeks I sell lots of Cuties, some weeks I don’t.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to keep up with my online presence whilst making Cuties and getting prepared to launch my first fundraiser.

Taking photos, making up stories, getting all the pages ready for the website, I’ve added Dotty stories on there too for everyone to enjoy.

I am giving this every bit of my energy plus more, I push myself to the limit everyday.  It’s probably not healthy.

I’ve tried to make my sponsor Michelle proud and I want to show her that she wasn’t wrong to give me this opportunity.

Sadly, trouble broke out a couple of weeks ago amongst some of the groups I associate with on social network.

This really scared me, it has been my fear since I started and I don’t want to get involved.

Some of you may not know what I’m taking about although I am sure that you have all seen stories about trolls and bullies online before.

My Shaun always says, it’s a numbers game, so sharing and being shared is a big part of growing my campaign. It’s also a fun part of campaigning, or at least it was.

There are a lot of special hours on twitter, they call it “speed networking”, you share people’s makes and they share yours, you have a chat and meet new people, you make friends.

These hours often take place at unsociable times, but it has been worth it so far.  It’s how I’ve met a lot of my friends and supporters.

I’ve been taking part in some of these hours since I started in February and most dinnertimes have been taken over by me being on twitter…. Thank you to Shaun for feeding me!

I’m not here to name people and when the fight started I contacted the main parties straight away.

I made my position clear, they have all been there for me since the start and I wasn’t willing to lose either of them.

Politics are all around us but my “business” is to raise money so that I don’t end up locked up in a mental health institution or even worse dead!

My campaign is what I am doing with the support of my partner, my family and my friends to have hope and to try and get closer to my goal.

I appreciate that not everyone is interested, that’s fair enough, but luckily some people are.

It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there when you’re taking about something so close to your heart.  Most people are trying to run a normal business and that’s hard enough in these difficult times.

For me, this is a lifeline, it’s my way of maintaining some control over what seems to be an uncontrollable situation and it really doesn’t take a lot for my tiny bit of confidence to go down.

So after I had made my position clear to both parties only one replied and I was told that the support towards me would not stop.

I was relieved.

I didn’t hear back from the other person but after doing one of “their” hours on twitter and being shared by the host, I concluded that things were ok.

I presumed that they just didn’t want to discuss the issues with me but that since I had remained impartial we were ok.

This was last week.

Last Thursday, after four days of almost no sleep, I was putting the finishing touches to my launch for the fundraiser, I had a doctor appointment at five and I was planning on launching at seven.

Just before I left for the doctors I had a look around on twitter, I had scheduled a lot of tweets for the fundraiser and I was just checking that all was well.

Two hours before the launch of something I spent days working my bum off on I discovered that I had been blocked by one of the parties.  No apparent reasons or clear explanation about why, it wiped out two hours of potentially good exposure for my fundraiser on that evening.

I was gutted.  I spoke to a couple of people to see if they had any idea of what may have happened, no one was sure and really people were quite shocked that someone would do that.

I got myself in a state for a while, and then I remembered a Ted Talk I watched recently where the speaker said something that stuck with me.

She said that a large part of her success has come from putting herself at the hands of her faithful followers.  It’s a trust exercise.

She said a lot of other super interesting things that have made me think about the way I run things but that’s for another post.

Then, around an hour before the launch I was unblocked and I received a message to tell me that I should thank someone else for this.  So basically, I wasn’t unblocked by choice, it wasn’t an act of kindness.

Shaun was so angry and after he spent almost an hour trying to calm me down he made me block them back.  It’s not often he tells me what to do but he was firm, under no uncertain terms should you ever take part in anything organised by this person.

I decided to take his advice.

So I carried on regardless handed over my trust to you, my followers.

The launch was a success and I can’t thank you enough for the support so far.  We have another week to go and if the last couple of days are anything to go by, it is going very well so far.

I have to be honest and I was in bits after this episode, I thought that I would wake up with no followers, no bids and more despair.

It didn’t happen and the next day it turned out Shaun was right.

The “blocker” had been speaking behind my back and I was shown messages I wish I hadn’t seen.

It broke my confidence a little bit and I started to question myself.  Am I going on too much?  Do I look silly?  Are people laughing at me?  Is this just a big fat waste of time?

I don’t know, but it made me think about people who kill themselves after online bullying, personal attacks, childish politics.  Young or old, whatever you say about someone in a flippant moment can potentially tip them over the edge.  What kind of people do what? Do I want to associate with them?

It’s pathetic and I refuse to take part.  I am very angry!

I have time for everyone who has ever supported me and I say it every month in my newsletter, contact me if I can help you.

It’s hard to follow three thousand people and see them all, share them and keep in touch.  But I try and I don’t think I do a bad job, it’s taken over my life and for someone who’s not keen on computers or the internet, I don’t think I do too bad.

Potentially this person may have damaged the impact of my fundraiser, to what purpose?  Looking on the positive I now know who my friends are.

We are all trying to survive in the harsh world of online business and we all do our best, some people however like to take advantage of us.

I would like to remind these people that they would not survive without us as they solely rely on our businesses to make theirs work.

Also, just FYI, no one owns the internet or words on the internet Shaun said!

I have given up entering competitions online and I won’t be doing many hours anymore.

I’m just a woman fighting for survival so if you want to support me I will love you forever for it.  But if you want to hinder me or even worse punish me for your insecurities, I suggest you move on to the next person. I’m not interested in playing games.  My health is not a game for you to play with.

I may have low self-esteem and little confidence but I am appreciated by some pretty special people and the reason they love me is because I genuinely love them back.

Sure I may not know them personally but I take time out for them and I do my best to be there for them. It’s like karma; all the good I try to do comes right back to me.

I don’t have space for negativity and pettiness but it’s a point I wanted to make and I won’t speak of it again so please don’t ask me to comment online.  Just think about what you say and how you conduct yourself around people.  You never know.  Be kind to one another.

You can support me or you can get lost and I will do the same with you.  Now let’s move on and get back to the business of being there for each other please.  And the smiles, please keep making me smile!

I can’t end this post without thanking you, the people who matter, the people who help me get out of bed everyday, the people who take time out of their busy day to simply be here for me.

I know that life online is fickle and I know that sometimes we move on, but I also know me and I will never forget everything you have all done to keep me going so far.

I’m very French at heart, very black and white, I love and I hate so if I say I love you, I do.

Steffie xx

PS: Let’s get Sunny a new home….

PPS: Thank you to our little Cutie for her Dotty drawing…  Feel free to send me your drawings!

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