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The Clubs That No One Wants to Join

And then it turns out that it was a hoax.

Considering that no one sane wants to be infertile, happily chooses to lose a wanted pregnancy or a child, there sure seems to be a lot of people who want to create fake blogs depicting these situations.  A lot is an overstatement, but it certainly seems like a lot if you’ve been around the ALI blogosphere for a while.  I linked to two stories in that last post on being a frier (“sucker” in Hebrew); there have been more than two.

I still believe, for the most part, that the majority of damage is contained in the moment.  You feel foolish for expending emotional energy on a fake story, but I’ve seen this community weather a few of these by this point, and this one was small potatoes compared to one several years back which went on for considerably longer, the blogger deeply entrenched in the community.  Her news appeared many times in the LFCA, her blog was on the blogroll, she participated in community-wide projects, commented liberally.  She was known by many in this corner of the blogosphere, and her hoax brought out a lot of anger.

So I watched us roll through that, and like so many times when we say that an event has changed the community forever, the statement is both true and somewhat false.  A community is never static, so every person entering or exiting changes it.  Every moment changes it.  But this particularly community is also a tough community who came together with a purpose — to trade information and support.  And that need doesn’t disappear just because someone chooses to exploit us.  Therefore, we come back together again and again to fulfill that need despite people performing acts which distract us from our goal to be there for one another and to weigh in with our thoughts on the emotional side of infertility and loss (as well, sometimes, to discuss what worked for us).

There was a blogger a while back — LisaP — who changed my life.  She has since died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but back in 2006, she read my blog and noticed things in my story that reminded me of her own.  So she emailed to ask if my doctor had done a clotting panel, and a few appointments later with a hematologist, I got my probable answer (and possible solution) to my early losses.

That, to me, is the ALI community.  We watch out for each other, we hold each other accountable for what we put into the world, we hold each other up, we give each other ideas.  I stick around to get that and to give that.  My goal in life is to be someone else’s LisaP, to have them think fondly of me once I’m gone and say, “that woman changed my life.”  And to be completely selfish, I’m here because you all get me through my day.  Even the stuff I don’t blog about.  Sometimes I don’t even need the communication; I just need to know you exist and you’re out there.  And other times, I need the hug or the conversation or the advice.  So I hopefully give and I definitely take.  And then the hoaxes come along and they are a distraction, but they ultimately don’t deter me from what I want to do which is the give and take.

The people who do this suck, plain and simple.  They see hurt and exploit it.  They see kind hearts and exploit them.  They want care in the same way that we all want care, but they steal it instead of asking for it.  And like all thieves, emotional thieves make us feel unsafe because if they can take our tears, take our attention, take our empathy, what else can people take?

There are really no good words with these sorts of things.  But know that the people out there who have my trust, you still have my trust.  And to everyone hurting today from this, you have my hugs.


1 Heather { 06.21.12 at 10:46 am }

I hate how emotially tied I got into this hoax. I commented, prayed, and shed tears over this individual and her situation. I for one love this community because we can be honest and express our deepest feelings and gain support from others going through similar situations. These fake blogs and their author’s make me upset, I don’t like investing my feelings and time into lies when other true blogs/people could use my attention and comments.

2 Mrs. Sunnyside Up { 06.21.12 at 11:10 am }

I am so angry that I posted about “her” asking for prayers and comments to support her.
I am so sorry that I got my readers emotionally involved. I feel like a baboon!
I found her through someone I had been following and actually lives in my same town. I looked back through some of her other posts and they exchanged posts for a little bit of time. So I thought it seemed legit.
All the while I was totally hoodwinked – what an idiot I am.

I just can’t imagine someone playing with the emotions of the ladies in this community. After all we have been through and now this.

I too was emotionally vested in her and thought how cruel this is.
But now I’m just angry at her.
Karma is NOT a nice lady. I hope and pray she doesn’t pro-create and goes to seek mental help.

It scares me because now I’m going to second guess every loss hat is posted. Which I know I shouldn’t do.
I feel cheated on, lied too, mislead, minipulated, etc.

I’ll climb off of my soap box, now.

3 Heather { 06.21.12 at 11:25 am }

I’m not trying to cause problems, but I noticed this on this blog world and thought it was interesting…

4 marwil { 06.21.12 at 11:54 am }

I find this really disturbing, but hope whoever set this up will get some help so it doesn’t happen again. I got drawn in and left a comment, put the blog in my reader so I could follow. Then it was gone and now I know why. I just hope it won’t make me too cautious to where support is really needed. It just makes me sad.

5 k { 06.21.12 at 12:03 pm }

This whole thing disturbs me. Not so much because I got emotionally invested in this story (I didn’t even hear about it until you posted and I dug around to find out what was up) but because it feels like it’s the precursor to all of our stories being met with suspicion. If someone would lie about losing a child, why not wonder if the woman writing about losing a pregnancy at 7 weeks is lying too? It’s sure as heck a lot harder to prove. It just feels like one more way for the “general public” to point to the IF community and call us crazy or obsessed or whatever, even if these people faking it never truly were part of the community to begin with. I might not be making sense, but it just makes me feel like I have to PROVE that yes, I’m battling this and my emotions are REAL because there are people out there who are lying.

6 a { 06.21.12 at 12:31 pm }

As someone who tries to avoid attention like the plague, I really don’t understand what drives people to do this sort of thing. But, I think you mentioned another story that was making waves across the internet and had generated a website that tracked the lies and half-truths about the woman who was writing. I guess this sort of thing is what motivates people to do that sort of tracking.

7 serenity { 06.21.12 at 1:24 pm }

This probably isn’t going to be a popular opinion, but I pity the people who create hoaxes like this. I feel like they have to have a really big hole in their life in order to need to escape it enough to create this alternate world where they suffer tragedy beyond comprehension for attention.

How unhappy their life must be.

Not that it helps with the hurt of trusting someone that’s taken advantage of you. And if I had invested emotional energy into someone and found it was a hoax, I’d probably feel just as angry.


8 ANDMom { 06.21.12 at 1:30 pm }

This kind of thing bothers me largely because I end up feeling like … are people going to doubt MY story? Think I’m making things up for sympathy? Especially a few years ago when the shit was *really* hitting the fan, it seemed unbelievable that it could all happen to one person all at once … and yet … it did. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, because of that, but … I can see where the more hoaxes there are, the slower people will be to trust.

9 It Is What It Is { 06.21.12 at 1:54 pm }

My biggest concern about hoaxes like these that prey on the good nature of people who are willing to rally behind the cause of a stranger, is that it creates a “Cry Wolf” mentality that causes suspicion across all pleas for help. Having been burned myself I am so skeptical, so suspicious, that I often do not participate in a way that I otherwise might.

It’s how I feel about solicitors outside the grocery store. Even though I think that there is corruption within and among legitimate charities, I now only give to those that I’ve personally researched and would NEVER give to those standing outside a grocery store (with their hand-made/home printed signs & literature) because I’ve been burned there, too.

It jades those with an otherwise willing spirit to help and that is a shame.

10 EmHart { 06.21.12 at 2:09 pm }

I agree with ANDMom, it makes you worry that people wont believe your own story. It has made me wonder how my blog comes across to others, and that is not what blogging is about for me. I want to be able to write what is in my heart without adding or censoring anything.

11 Alexicographer { 06.21.12 at 2:20 pm }

I’m with @serenity, above, per my comment on your warrioreli post.

12 Io { 06.21.12 at 2:25 pm }

(Is now a bad time to announce I am actually a 63 year old man from Hoboken?)
I don’t know who the blogger is that you’re talking about, but when I hear about stuff like this it’s just so sad – for the community that was fooled, yes (I’ve cried for people and I would be angry as heck that I hurt over something I didn’t have to hurt over), but mostly I feel pity for the person who felt they had to join a community they weren’t a part of. I mean, the internet is freaking HUGE. There is a special place for everybody, no matter how unique their interests or kinks or situation. If you can’t find a place you honestly fit into and have to seek out somebody else’s space there is something broken in you.

13 Trisha { 06.21.12 at 3:09 pm }

I am so horrified by this. I replied to the post telling her to ignore the haters. I never imagined that someone could ever make up something so horrible. This KILLS me. I have an infertile friend who lost her miracle baby to a car accident on Christmas Day last year. He was 18 months old and brain dead. This story immediately grabbed my attention because of the similarity and I know how hard it has been for my friend. She struggles everyday with the loss of her son. This is not a joking matter. I can’t believe anyone would make light of something so awful and painful. I’m really hurt by all this.

14 Pam/Wordgirl { 06.21.12 at 4:12 pm }

First I should say that Mel — you are my Lisa P.

Next…well, I really believe in trying to keep an open heart and as I get older I believe it’s all we can do — not that we become doormats to the con artists of the world, not at all — but that the power of our belief in human goodness far outweighs our belief in its opposite.

I believe the telling of one’s story to be a sacrosanct act — I have a hard time making peace with these things when they come up.

Words matter. They connect us to one another — they are how we fall in love, cradle one another in grief, ease the path when people leave us — literally or figuratively — its heartbreaking to think they are taken so lightly and thrown about with such carelessness — or even worse — carefully crafted to mislead.


So sorry to hear about this — but I love the frame you’ve put around it Mel, as always.



15 Mina { 06.21.12 at 5:05 pm }

This kind of people, and their counterparts, the trolls, who leave stpuid mean messages to bereaved people, are forging themselves a new category of mental illness. Or perhaps they already have been studied as pathological cases. Anyway, I do agree that we should not let them tear our community. They are the exception to the rule. Kindness is so rarely found nowadays, we should not start sparing it just because hoaxes and trolls rip the veil we thought we have covered ourselves in by being in this community. And to those who have reposted this latestest story: don’t stop doing kindgestures like these. If they are hoaxes, you are not to blame. No one will hold you accountable.

And just as a side note: good grief, what world are we living in?! I am not THAT old to ask myself this so often and shake my head just like my grandmother… On the other hand, I maybe am.

16 Delenn { 06.21.12 at 5:11 pm }

You know, the really sad thing about this is that I went there to offer support–then I saw the “trolls” and then I questioned. And did not leave a comment at all. I took the wait and see approach because my gut said it was fake. BUT…what if it hadn’t been, I would have withheld support for someone in need. Indeed, I loved Once A Mothers post about this and next time–I will leave a comment even if I have doubts.

17 Amanda { 06.21.12 at 5:30 pm }

This hoax has really shook me to the core. I was really afflicted by reading her story – questioning whether or not I was strong enough to continue being apart of this wonderful community as the hurt and pain I was reading about was becoming overbearing. Now, I don’t know where I stand. Joining such a community of women who HAVE gone through pain and suffering – bringing back, I’m sure, some of that pain and suffering to women as they relive their own experiences through another, is demented. She thought it would be fun to create a life for herself? I’m sure the women who live/eat/breathe the pain she was describing daily would love to trade her places anytime.

18 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.21.12 at 10:59 pm }

*snort* on Io’s comment.

And I was intending to say what Pam did. You are my LisaP and I’m not waiting until you’re gone to appreciate you and think fondly of you.

It’s just so odd to me that someone would trade their long-term reputation for short-term attention.

19 Trinity { 06.21.12 at 11:01 pm }

Amanda, I actually shared a very similar comment with fellow bloggers last night on Twitter. I had such a visceral reaction to that tragedy (before I understood it to be fiction), very much a sobbing into my bedsheets, threading my fingers through my sleeping kid’s curls, and feeling paranoid as I drove him to the grocery store and the park the next day kind of thing. I, too, found myself wondering if (and even composing half a post to the effect of) I needed to take a break from blogging for a while. (This is my own baggage, I know.) It’s just astounding, really, the how wide the ripples travel in the cruelty of such a hoax. I feel just…stupefied.

20 JuliaKB { 06.22.12 at 12:48 am }

My issue is along the same lines as what Amanda is talking about. It’s basically that there’s a world of difference between inducing people to make farewell cards for you (even though it seems pretty desperate or at least not well thought out, given that she was to appear in school the very next day) and speculating on the pain of people who actually know what it’s like to outlive your child or what it’s like to watch a friend outlive their child. And yes, the person who does this must have a strange life. I can feel sad for the person, I can wonder if the person may be is a psychopath. But I can’t stop wondering what witnessing the charade has done to the people for whom the situations are not hypothetical. Somehow, I’ve nearly always managed to find out about these things post-factum, so I was never sucked in. But I know there are many who have been. And it bothers me beyond words to think of someone who knows the pain of this kind of loss being thrown into their own emotions with the amplified force of a hoax. Because just like you talked about the characters in 50 shades being constructed in the way that emotionally works in books, these hoaxes seem to always be constructed to be an especially painful case, something that will trigger loads of sympathy. And it angers me and bothers me that someone would be so completely without compassion as to inflict that level of additional pain on people who are suffering very real pain already.

P.S. Did you know that “frier” in that expression is a word borrowed from my native language? I actually haven’t heard of the expression before your post, but I understood the meaning of it as soon as I read it. That word has a storied carrier in a slice of culture from and about a particular era in the Old Country as well as some implications going forward (am I sufficiently vague? Happy to disambiguate at some point. :)).

21 St. Elsewhere { 06.22.12 at 1:44 am }

Is it a compliment in a small measure that she went to the extent that she did, to be a part of this community?

Plus, I have always believed that truth is stranger than fiction. What is a story is true but no one believes it, because they have been hurt often enough.

I keep thinking of the horse and the rider story I posted after the April Rose thing.

22 St. Elsewhere { 06.22.12 at 1:44 am }

What if and not What is…

23 Syringe Sisters { 06.22.12 at 5:00 pm }

My husband and I are still in shock. How sick can a person be? She wrote about the death of her living child for an escape from reality? I fear for her child…and her husband. What a creeper.

I did find it rather strange the she was blogging on the way to the hospital after the alleged accident. Hmmm

Makes me think twice before tearing up, with my stomach in knots over blog posts.

24 Alissa S { 06.23.12 at 2:52 pm }

This whole situation sucks for sure. I too was duped, but you know…she obviously needs a lot of help. I am not happy that someone would exploit us that way, but I refuse to let her mess up my real connections and support. I don’t doubt the people I have come to know and I won’t. She won’t take this community away from me. Thanks for your attention to this sad and disturbing situation.

25 Kathy { 06.23.12 at 9:22 pm }

Joining the chorus of those who have thank you for being their Lisa P…. xoxo

You truly have influenced my writing/blogging and related confidence more than probably anyone I know (or at least as much as my parents and high school English teacher my Jr. year). You have helped me to believe that I can accomplish what I hope and dream of doing when it comes to writing, but never sugar coat what it will take to get there.

In regards to this latest hoax. After the April Rose thing I was very cautious for awhile, but then mostly forgot about it and moved back towards giving people, especially fellow bloggers the benefit of the doubt. I LOVE Kristin’s post, that you talked about in your last one, as she really does bring up some helpful and compassionate ways to think about all of this. It does really bother me that people are capable of screwing with other’s emotions through such hoaxes, however I appreciate the idea that to “go there” they are likely not mentally stable and need our kindness, compassion and prayers as much as our disappointment, frustration and anger.

26 loribeth { 06.23.12 at 10:03 pm }

I didnt’ hear about any of this until after the fact. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of such a thing happening and sadly it probably won’t be the last. You’re right, though. This person must be desperate for attention & sympathy if THIS is the club they choose to join. Much as I love all of you and am so grateful for the bonds we have formed through this community, the price of membership — true membership — is way too high for anyone to voluntarily pay.

27 Jules { 06.24.12 at 2:39 am }

I don’t know the story of this fake blogger (troll), but I know of another on a forum.

She had given birth at 24wks & although her DS went through hell, he had survived with few medical issues. She then went through years of IF, only to fall pregnant through IVF with twins. So many complications occurred through the pregnancy & she lost both of the twins after another premature birth. She fell pregnant again through IVF & again she had yet another pregnancy full of complications & another premature birth.

Long story short, people put two & two together after raising money & lending support, found out that this person was just a person who was messed up & who had not suffered IF. Rumour has it that she didn’t even have children. This deception stretched for around 5yrs.

Unfortunately there are some sad souls out there who, with the invention of the internet, can turn themselves into whatever they like. They become popular online, when IRL, they may not have a friend at all.

I’m sorry to those of you who were sucked in by this person. Sadly though, she is not the first & will definitely not be the last.

28 Wolfers { 06.24.12 at 11:01 pm }

I’m with Andmom- reading this post/replies, I have wondered about my own blog, and of whether people would wonder if my story is authentic, especially with me being new to the IF/childless community. That’s what I don’t like about hoaxes, it cause people to doubt. *sigh*

What does come up to my mind- “Munchausen by Internet”… easier to share the link than to explain. 🙂
The bottom line with this is that it’s very much EASIER for folks to lie about themselves, being anonymous, and easier access to communication/connection (electronic social networks.)

It is not to explain about what this person had done, but might as well help understand what might have happened. Hopefully, she will seek therapy, especially if she seeks support online- that means she doesn’t know how to get support in a healthy way.

*sigh* sometimes I think being a mental health therapist stinks, because I’d find myself talking and I question whether I’m speaking as MYSELF or a therapist. Anyway-off the topic. Sorry.

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