It’s been a year since two of the biggest thing I will ever experience happened. One of which was getting the opportunity to celebrate my marriage to my incredible husband, at our beautiful wedding day. The 2nd of which was then having said wedding reported all over the world.
I’ve spent weeks trying to figure out what to say about this last year. I have written a year in review and I’ve deleted it. I wrote a few blogs about privacy when having a service dog, I deleted those as well. Heck, I still keep second guessing my thoughts. All in all, I have struggled with what to write. But I just finished reading my photographers latest blog about our wedding and it inspired me a little.
The main reason it inspired me is because I didn’t realize how different things were for us. We both had the same think happen to us but we had very different things happen as a result. I contribute part of that to the fact that Maddies experience had a lot more to do with a professional and business side of things (with some personal things in the mix). I on the other hand had a mostly personal experience, with a few educational benefits thrown in.
If you want to read Maddie’s side, check out her blog here.
First, I want to say that I appreciate the amount of educating I was allowed to do. This photo opened up a platform for me to educate so many about service dogs and mental illness that it made a lot of things worth it. But (there is always a but) it wasn’t always sunshine and roses. I am not crying poor me, but I have always been honest on my blog; even when it’s not easy to read or write and that’s why I am writing this.
Going “Viral” is exhausting. Imagine having your entire life picked apart. I might have been a really bad person to have this happen to, because contrary to what many might believe, I am/was a pretty private person before all this. Yes, I had my blog, but I didn’t think anyone other than my family and close friends would read it. I never really worried about what it would feel like to have all my medical issues announced to the world. Suddenly my private “little” wedding wasn’t private anymore. My face, my husbands face and my families all became public. People knew where I lived, where I grew up, my place of work and so much more. My safety bubble of control was shattered; it was very difficult for someone with major control issues.
I quickly learned two things: 1) by being the subject of the photo, you have very little rights. And 2) if you are not open and cooperative it can be disastrous.
The first one may sound surprising. I want to say I was lucky in the fact that Maddie was very helpful when people tried to circumvent me. She always directed them to me to make sure it was okay to do a story on. But in another situation I can see how it would get out of hand. A good majority of reporters only cared about the rights to the photo. They didn’t really worry about the rights of the person in the photo.
Which led to number 2. I started saying yes to everyone because I discovered that if I said no (which I did to a few) they would take quotes from other articles, chop them up, rewrite them, and claim I spoke with them. I spent an entire day contacting those “news” sites to tell them things like:
- No I do not have a congenital heart disorder. Even though that’s what you state in your article.
- Bella , the yellow lab, is a girl, I did not dress my boy dog Henry in a tutu, Henry is the little dog.
- My husband’s name is Andrew not Henry or Kurt. Kurt is my dad and Henry is our little dog.
- I was not a veteran nor have I ever claimed to be one (this was to a site claiming I was scamming everyone) and although I never mentioned PTSD, you can have PTSD without being a veteran.
- I do not have a hearing issue, even though I look fine and that could be the “only possible” thing wrong with me.
- And so many, many more as well.
The other issue I ran into was if you didn’t specifically give instructions on how to write something, the thesaurus would get involved and next thing I knew, I was getting hate mail for faking a service animal when “clearly” Bella was only an emotional support animal.
Not all the articles were bad, I would like to make a shout out to The Huffington Post, USA Today, CNN, Buzzfeed, many more and all of their affiliates, for listening to my many clarifications and edits. I’m sure it can’t be easy to be told “I understand task is redundant, but you can’t say calming be cause that makes it sound like I’m breaking the law”, 10 times in an interview. Some of the people that contacted me, like those I listed, were so understanding and kind to me and my many worries. They made the process so much easier. So thank you.
All of that leads me the most important thing I want to share with my readers: don’t believe everything you read on the Internet (cliché I know) and be wary of what that leads you to feel or think about the subject in question. I never truly grasped how mean “keyboard warriors” can be until I was on the other side of it. I am guilty of occasionally glancing at the comments section and snickering but that has all changed this year. Now, whenever I read a story that makes someone look bad, my gut instinct is to worry that we aren’t getting the whole story. I sympathize with them on a level few others will understand.
I’ve already said this, but over all, I don’t regret any of this. It made me a stronger person. it challenged the way I handle myself, and my illness. It made me push myself. It also helped form the way Andrew and I handle things as a couple. It made us stronger. I mean, this is a pretty huge thing to happen during your first year of marriage. It also led to a year full of ups and downs and good and bad changes but in the end it taught me to be a better person. I read the news, all the news, with a completely different view. I am more compassionate to people I have never met because I can relate. It also has made me a little more careful, I am very hesitant on what I put into the interweb, which is why I have struggled with my blog this year, but I am hoping to work on that.
This got really long but one last quick thing, I would like to thank all of my friends, old and new, for their support during this insane year. I also need to say thank you to my family that has stuck by me during everything. I love you all and wouldn’t be where I am now with out all your love and support.
Here is to a (hopefully) quieter year.