No... I've been taking the coward's way out.
No... I've been taking the coward's way out.
You SHOULD hold me accountable for what I did. But I'm not going to submit to the false narrative and keep hiding behind a filter of fear and self-loathing.
Everything I said in my response was the truth.
Here's the full story.
I've always believed there's no reason to start dating anyone unless I feel like I could realistically spend the rest of my life with them, because anything less than that is setting up for heartache. I've also been raised in a Christian household, and I don't believe in sex before marriage. As a result, I didn't date for 20 years, and I'm a virgin to this day.
My first relationship was with a girl one or two years younger than me. I'll call her Ann for convenience. It was my first time having feelings for anyone, and I didn't know how to process those feelings. I got love confused with lust. That's not to say I didn't care about Ann, but my confused emotions were a major factor in the relationship falling through.
Ann and I had lackluster communication because we ONLY knew how to speak to each other romantically, and not as friends. I learned from that experience and made the decision never to follow the feeling I identified as lust again. Marriage is too tremendous of a commitment NOT to be with a partner you can talk to comfortably every day without get bored of each other.
As such, lust played no part in what happened next. Emi and I stumbled upon each other online and quickly became best friends. We got along so well that when she was 14 and I was 21, we hadn't explicitly committed, but were at least open to the possibility of being lifelong companions. I'm not trying to downplay my actions, because this alone is unacceptable. But this was the whole nature of our relationship.
The reason I'm not a groomer is because grooming, by definition, has sexual intent. Nothing about our relationship was sexually motivated. We never sexted, and we never exchanged nudes or anything inappropriate. Yes, the topic of sex came up in passing conversation, but NOT as a consideration between us.
We never met in person, but even if we'd gotten that chance, sex was not on our minds. The entire time we'd spoken to one another was through text, so our plan was to judge if we still had the same chemistry in person, and for our families to meet each other as well.
That said, as I've admitted, I did unintentionally stifle her relationship experience. I told her time and time again that I didn't want her to feel any obligation to me, but I realized far too late that she probably subconsciously did anyway. I really DID believe we were so compatible that I was potentially saving her from the same heartbreak I felt, even though I acknowledge how shitty that sounds in retrospect. Intentionally or not, it was completely irresponsible for me to put the idea of a long-term relationship in her head when I did.
By extension, I'm not a pedophile, because pedophilia is a mental illness that causes someone to have a sexual attraction to children. I have no such attraction. If anything, it's the opposite. I'm an introvert with a huge extended family, and there are enough loud, snotty, high-maintenance kids in it for me to know I'd be MISERABLE if I had kids of my own.
But if I did, I would still do everything in my power to protect them from harm. I've deleted messages from young teenagers on the Discord server that could clue them in to their location and told them to be more careful. I've banned users who were potential threats or even consistently made posts that were borderline NSFW. If I didn't have the fullest intent to respect Emi's best wishes, I never would have instigated anything more than friendship.
Again, I am NOT endorsing this kind of relationship and there is NO justification for it. I'm explaining my thought process to help people understand it, but I'm not saying it's okay. If you ever have thoughts like mine, PLEASE seek help sooner than I did.
Another one of my faulty justifications for the 7-year gap at the time was that, mentally, we felt about the same age. In fact, we felt closer in age than "Ann" and I did. I mean no offense by that, but in my experience, Emi came across as way more perceptive, understanding, and articulate. Hell, she WAS and STILL IS more mature than me in most ways--which is concerning in hindsight, and one of the reasons I've started believing I'm seriously mentally underdeveloped for my age.
Some important context in this is that I'm on the autism spectrum. Social conventions are not intuitive to me like they are to most people. Again, I knew e-dating a minor was, at the very least, a sensitive idea generally "frowned upon" in society, but I legitimately failed to understand why it would be wrong MORALLY as long as we treated each other with the utmost respect and nothing illegal took place. I didn't know any better the entire time we were together.
The breakup (which was in April of this year) happened very suddenly to me. I didn't understand what could have gone wrong between us. In essence, she said she still really cared about me as a friend, but she owed it to herself to explore other romantic options, and my 5-years-ago suggestion of us possibly becoming more than friends was, in her own words, "kinda dumb." Major understatement. That was the first time it registered that this wasn't just a "frowned upon" kind of relationship. There was no correct way to do it. It was detrimental to her relational growth. Age isn't just a number.
I'd cared so deeply about this girl for so long. She was family to me. To learn right there and then, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I'd been harmful to her in any way, was the heaviest guilt and shame I'd ever experienced. I couldn't count how many times I told her I was sorry, typing on my phone through wet eyes.
I had no delusions that my apologies would change her mind. That wasn't my intention. This was her choice and I accepted it. I still remember my exact words: "I want what's best for you. And what's best for you might not be me."
We settled the issue in private, went our separate ways, and haven't spoken much since then, although we're on good terms. We thought that was the end of it. Still, in the back of our minds, we always knew it was possible that our relationship would be leaked to the public by one of my old friends, because I got too excited back in those days and ran my mouth to the people I thought I could trust.
That was my worst fear. I wasn't worried about "my acts of abuse and trauma being exposed" or anything, because nothing like that happened. I was worried because I KNEW people would misconstrue it. I KNEW people would call me a pedo and a groomer based on a few screenshots with literally no evidence of that.
Fast forward to November. We'd moved on. ONAF3 just released, and the only thing on my mind was taking my leave from the FNAF community to focus on new things. In this time, I blocked a few FNAF-centered accounts because I didn't want to be deemed "FNAF news" anymore. I also removed Kane Carter from my follows, not because I have anything against him, but because FNAF news is 99% of his Twitter account.
When I saw I'd received an email labeled "urgent" from Kane telling me to contact him on Discord as soon as I could, I didn't think much of it. I figured he just wanted to ask why I removed him from my follows, so I didn't get back to him for a few more hours.
But it was urgent. It was about Emi. An anonymous account named Fulcrum, apparently one of my old friends, was about to make the matter public.
I sent Emi the first message we'd exchanged in months to tell her what was about to happen. She told me would absolutely support me and was pissed the moment she found out Fulcrum didn't hide her name.
My last hope was that the post wouldn't blow up, but it did, and I felt pressured to respond to the allegations immediately. Now that I'm in a less distressed state of mind, I'm saying all the things I should have said then.
I'll admit, my remorse wasn't about the relationship itself this time. Again, Emi and I already settled that in private. This time, my regret was that I didn't keep it private enough. I've angered and disappointed so many people. I've lost friends and supporters, and the Twitter mob is calling me things I'm not. Emi was forced to deactivate her Twitter account because of all the undue attention.
I hate this. If I could do everything over with the knowledge I have now, I would. But I can't.
And yet, in a weird way, I'm grateful.
Fulcrum, if you're reading this, I don't know which one of my old friends you are, and I don't care. You're a bad source of information considering you thought I "insist on remaining in the FNAF community" when that's clearly not true, and you had a "guilty until proven innocent" attitude toward accusing me of being a child predator, which is a HUGE fucking accusation that you have no hard evidence for. If you did, you would have shared it by now. Fuck you for trying to ruin my life based on conjecture. I've even felt pressured to stop talking to some of my best friends, just because a few are under 18 and you spouted bullshit that I'm a risk to them. I've never asked, but I'm sure they, too, could attest to the fact that I've never made any advances on them and have never made them uncomfortable. I'm not that kind of guy.
I don't agree with HOW you called me out.
But the fact is, you were holding onto knowledge that was potentially concerning for people, and you did the right thing in sharing it. I needed to be called out.
Thank you for giving me the push I needed to realize I'm severely mentally under-diagnosed and need more intensive therapy than what I've been getting.
I have a lot of problems. I don't feel the weight of possible consequences until I've experienced them. I've been putting off becoming an adult my whole life. I'm a perfectionist with self-doubt who can't stick to plans. I have a short temper. I'm impulsive. I'm paranoid. I have depressive episodes. I can be cold and distant to other people. Apparently, I'm ignorant and lack intuition on topics that really matter. I'm sure I have more problems that I don't know about yet. And just acknowledging that there are problems doesn't fix them.
Since Fulcrum's post, with the help of my family, I've had my first therapy session with a new counselor, spent a night in the group therapy unit of a psychiatric hospital, and enlisted in a 5-day adult partial hospitalization program that's essentially an intensive academic environment for mental health concerns and medication. This is where I'm starting, and I'm not going to stop.
One thing I've already learned from therapy is that it's only human to care what other people say. I cared so much about the vitriol I've received on Twitter that I started having suicidal thoughts. Some of you probably want me to follow through on those thoughts. But I'm only human. I can't please everyone, and it's ultimately my choice whose opinions I take to heart.
If you'll never forgive me, if you're never going to support me again or even feel outright disgusted by me, I DON'T blame you. I FUCKED up. What I did should NEVER be seen as an influence and NOBODY should imitate it ESPECIALLY considering how dangerous the internet is for anyone underage. I don't deserve to get out of this unscathed.
But if there's any hope of me becoming the best version of myself, I choose to listen to the folks who can tell me, "Yeah. You fucked up big time. You need to be better, I believe you can be better, and I'll support you getting there."
I'm still not going to be on the internet for a long time. I don't know how long. Could be months, could be years. I know it will benefit me to disconnect, not to run away from my sins, but to face them. It's far too early to say what will happen after that. Returning as a saint who literally makes no mistakes ever is clearly not feasible, but whatever mistakes I make in the future, holy SHIT they won't be like this.
(I really have no idea if this is the "right" kind of statement to make or not. But I value openness and honesty too much to leave things so inauthentic and vague. In fact, being TOO open about my feelings might even count as another mental concern. I'll be sure to ask.)