I've been going through a struggle for about the last 24 hours, and it has to do with the loss of friends... and ends with a trashed reputation. I suppose that we should all be careful of what we say to other people... because although in my circumstances it was not caused by gossip, people can lose their good names over false rumors as well.
I'm going to tell my story about how my reputation was trashed here. Hopefully in an attempt to clear my good name with some people. Probably not everybody, some people may not believe me, but that's okay. Airing my dirty laundry publicly, and hopefully rationally, is about the best that I can do.
It starts about 13 years ago. It was 1995, and I was in college. I went to a Superbowl party with some friends, and this random lady was there. She was a Christian, as I was, and she started telling me about all this stuff that was happening behind the scenes... European Union stuff... all tin-hatty at the time. This one chance encounter with her introduced me to Bible Prophecy, and made me realize that we were in the last days. I had always enjoyed the book of Revelation, but I always thought that stuff was far off into the future.
That year, yahoo and other internet search engines were still in their infancy, and I did a search and stumbled across the Rapture Report. It was a report run by a wonderful man of God named Todd Strandberg, that came out every week that detailed the events of the day, sort of like a report card on how close it seemed that we were to the Rapture. I thought we were within 10 years of the rapture. But I guess God has different timing, because we're still here. Of course, his ways are better than mine, in ways I can't understand.
Years went by, and eventually the Rapture Report started a bulletin board, and renamed themselves Rapture Ready. I had gotten interested in other interests for a while, so I missed the first board they were on, but then I was a member of the second board. I was a very active member... I remember back in the days they posted their post count, and there was almost something of a competition to see who could have the higher post count. Those were fun times.
I was having a great time posting, and I was always talking about my friends on the board or something that we were discussing. My husband decided that he wanted to have an account. I was all cool with that at the time. For a while, things were going great. We both had friends on the board, they knew we were a married couple, and everything was cool.
Until my husband started getting involved in the political forums on the board.
He's a great guy, but he's not exactly... political. I'm the kind of person that can tell you that you stink and be nice about it. He'll come right out and say it, and you'll be offended.
That's when things started going downhill. Because he'd post things that were usually Biblical, but he'd say them in such a way that he would get under people's skin and rile up some nerves. So he started getting on the "bad boy" list with the mods. They started giving him warnings, but he didn't tone it down.
Then it happened. He got banned. Not just himself... he got us BOTH banned.
I was absolutely livid. We weren't on speaking terms for about a week. Finally after two weeks they let me back. Unfortunately... they also let my husband back. Anyway, he knew how upset I was over him getting me banned, so he did tone it down, and when he found out that he was having a personality conflict with one of the moderators, so he asked to be put on vacation. He never posted to that board again. That was 2005, I think.
Anyway, time passed. In 2006, I found out that we were going to have our second baby. I started becoming a regular poster over at the Epregnancy.com forums. Several months into posting there, I was getting into the debates and everything, and I was discussing with my husband what was going on over there. It happened again! He decided to become a member over there. Again, he was abrasive in the political forums, as he tends to be. Again, he got banned. Fortunately, the moderator knew me very well over there, and decided not to ban me.
It didn't stop there. Dh decided to create this alter ego on the Epregnancy forums. Again, stirred up some trouble. But he was less abrasive, and because he was pretending to be a girl, they didn't run him out of town that quickly.
About the same time, Rapture Ready (the forums) came under new management, and started all over again with a new database and everything. Since my husband had never had a problem with Todd or anybody else over at these new forums with the same name, he decided to create a new account there. So did I, because I had friends that went over at both boards now.
What do you know, my husband does it again. He starts posting to the political threads, starts offending people, and gets put on vacation. This time, they do the sensible thing and only put him on vacation. It's biblical that you should be punished for your own sins and not the sins of others, right?
If it would have stopped there, this whole thing would have ended and my reputation would still be intact. I wouldn't be writing this long diatribe today.
But no... not satisfied with being put on vacation, my husband decides to violate the Terms of Service on the board by dredging up his old alter-ego from the Epregnancy days. Even though there was a post on the site that says loud and clear you will be banned for creating multiple identities he decides to do so anyway. He thought that he was being slick by masking the IP that he was using while creating the account.
So yesterday afternoon, I get back from my wonderful vacation in Los Angeles, planning to respond to someone who had asked me a question while I was away, and I found out that I was banned.
I had not done anything to deserve this. Unless you believe that you should be punished for marrying the wrong person.
I had a good, long conversation over AIM with my husband over this yesterday afternoon. I was livid. When he did this to me over on RR three years ago and I finally got reinstated, I told him to never do this to me again. But he did.
And you know what? He also told me that he had several accounts that he only logged into from work. I was absolutely floored. He said that they had not banned his other accounts. He told me that he had no intention to stop posting to Rapture Ready from these other accounts, if they were ever so kind to reinstate me, but he did promise to not post from home. Oh great. Get me into trouble and then not stop doing what got me into trouble in the first place. Thanks.
I had a PM conversation with one of the moderators in the last evening. I'm not going to post his name because it is not my intention to hurt anybody in all this. I just want to do what I can to clear my reputation publicly.
Anyway, I could not convince this person that I and my husband were different people. I sent him a link to my and my husband's picture over on a site that he should have been familiar with as being valid, I sent him the names of several people that had spotless reputations that could vouch for the fact that both me and my husband were different people (some of them I have met in person). I even took a picture of our driver's licenses and sent him a copy for him to view. You would think that perhaps this would be enough proof that I and my husband were different people. Somehow, I can't think of anything else that could provide more proof than that.
But no, it was not. We do live in the same house, and accordingly, have the same IP address (duh). We have our domain names registered under the same account (yes, that makes it easier, you only have to pay one bill). I suppose that that proof supercedes the fact that we have different driver's licenses, there are two of us in the picture, and that there are several people who have met both of us and can vouch for the fact that we are not the same person.
Anyway, my reputation has been tarnished in the process. According to some people, not only am I a deceitful person who creates multiple accounts in order to violate the rules of a message board that I have many friends on, I also have multiple personalities and am demon possessed (because I asked them to never reinstate my husband to the board EVER in order to prevent this from happening to me again). Oh, and I am also a single man.
Well, for anybody who has stuck around to read the whole thing, this is who I really am. My real name is Brooke, and my middle name is like Lorren. I have been going by Lorren, or Brookelorren, on the internet since 1994. If you google my internet nickname, Brookelorren, you will find out more than you would ever need to know about me. Read my writings. If I truly am a demon-possessed, single male trying to create a fake identity in order to post on the Rapture Ready message board, I've got a real problem... because if I truly am the fake that some people think I am, then I have been carrying on this elaborate hoax for more than 10 years. Do you think that I am intelligent enough, that I have the foresight, to start writing hundreds and hundreds of articles and posts over a period of more than a decade, in case one day I get banned from a message board? I assure you, I am not. I may think that I'm pretty smart, but it's more of a book learning thing and not a people smarts thing.
Well, there's nothing really more than I can do to try to recover my reputation than what I have just said. I can't make anybody believe me. But I will say that you will find out that I am who I say I am at the Rapture. At least Jesus knows who I am.