When wanting to be accepted becomes overwhelming

Posted by: ST on November 14, 2007 at 1:00 am

Tuesday morning, I woke up, got ready for work, and quickly logged online to check my Newsgator feeds before leaving, as I always do, and read this post from Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom, who linked up to commentary by Ace of Spades blogger Jack M. on a disturbing story about a 13 y/o girl named Megan Meier who killed herself after being duped and ridiculed online by two people in her neighborhood who were posing as a young boy that was supposedly interested in her.

The two people were a former friend of hers …. and that friend’s mother.

Here are some snippets from the article:

His name was Josh Evans. He was 16 years old. And he was hot.

“Mom! Mom! Mom! Look at him!” Tina Meier recalls her daughter saying.

Josh had contacted Megan Meier through her MySpace page and wanted to be added as a friend.Yes, he’s cute, Tina Meier told her daughter. “Do you know who he is?”

“No, but look at him! He’s hot! Please, please, can I add him?”

Mom said yes. And for six weeks Megan and Josh – under Tina’s watchful eye – became acquainted in the virtual world of MySpace.

[...]

[Megan] loved swimming, boating, fishing, dogs, rap music and boys. But her life had not always been easy, her mother says.

She was heavy and for years had tried to lose weight. She had attention deficit disorder and battled depression. Back in third grade she had talked about suicide, Tina says, and ever since had seen a therapist.

But things were going exceptionally well. She had shed 20 pounds, getting down to 175. She was 5 foot 5½ inches tall.

She had just started eighth grade at a new school, Immaculate Conception, in Dardenne Prairie, where she was on the volleyball team. She had attended Fort Zumwalt public schools before that.

Amid all these positives, Tina says, her daughter decided to end a friendship with a girlfriend who lived down the street from them. The girls had spent much of seventh grade alternating between being friends and, the next day, not being friends, Tina says.

[...]

Part of the reason for Megan’s rosy outlook was Josh, Tina says. After school, Megan would rush to the computer.

“Megan had a lifelong struggle with weight and self-esteem,” Tina says. “And now she finally had a boy who she thought really thought she was pretty.”

It did seem odd, Tina says, that Josh never asked for Megan’s phone number. And when Megan asked for his, she says, Josh said he didn’t have a cell and his mother did not yet have a landline.

And then on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006, Megan received a puzzling and disturbing message from Josh. Tina recalls that it said: “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends.”

Frantic, Megan shot back: “What are you talking about?”

SHADOWY CYBERSPACE

Tina Meier was wary of the cyber-world of MySpace and its 70 million users. People are not always who they say they are.

Tina knew firsthand. Megan and the girl down the block, the former friend, once had created a fake MySpace account, using the photo of a good-looking girl as a way to talk to boys online, Tina says. When Tina found out, she ended Megan’s access.

MySpace has rules. A lot of them. There are nine pages of terms and conditions. The long list of prohibited content includes sexual material. And users must be at least 14.

“Are you joking?” Tina asks. “There are fifth-grade girls who have MySpace accounts.”

As for sexual content, Tina says, most parents have no clue how much there is. And Megan wasn’t 14 when she opened her account. To join, you are asked your age but there is no check. The accounts are free.

As Megan’s 14th birthday approached, she pleaded for her mom to give her another chance on MySpace, and Tina relented.

She told Megan she would be all over this account, monitoring it. Megan didn’t always make good choices because of her ADD, Tina says. And this time, Megan’s page would be set to private and only Mom and Dad would have the password.

Read the rest of it to find out what was said that eventually led up to Megan’s committing suicide.

I’m sure the mother and daughter who set up this fake “Josh Evans” online ID didn’t intend to cause Megan to take her own life, but nevertheless it’s a reminder of how utterly vicious people can be without actually committing a crime, and how sometimes that viciousness can lead to disastrous consequences, especially when the objects of the invective are teen-aged kids, kids who are at that awkward stage in life where they are struggling to find their way, and wanting desperately to be accepted.

Of course, every kid has different ways of handling the typical stress that goes along with being a teenager: a rare few don’t sweat the stress, but for the rest of them who do sweat it, some take the lemons and make lemonade out of them, some become introverted, a handful turn to violence, while others – a tiny minority – take their lives because the pressure becomes too much for them to handle.

This story has stayed with me since I read it, primarily because Megan Meir reminded me of myself when I was her age. She was short, struggling with her looks and self-esteem, frequently down, and wanted so very much for people to like her, so much so that when an “older boy” showed interest in her, she jumped at the chance to strike up a friendship with him, clearly hoping for more.

Obiviously, we handled the pressure of being a teenager in two entirely different ways. Growing up, I was anxious for the high school years to be over, and when they finally were I eagerly moved on to college, where I had the chance to start fresh, make new friends, and get away from the negativity of my high school life. But if you’re one of those who, like me, never did quite “fit in” in junior and senior high school, I don’t think you ever can completely “move on” from some of the hurtful things that were said and done to you as an impressionable, fledgling teen.

For example: my first “serious” boyfriend in high school ruined my self esteem (not to mention my impression of men) for a very, very long time by using a mixture of methods. First, there were the conventional methods young men sometimes use: 1) like making a point of flirting outrageously with other girls in front of me – causing me to repeatedly question whether or not I was pretty enough, 2) telling me how “lucky” I – a goofy looking, slightly overweight sophomore – was to be dating him, an in-shape senior – which in turn made me ashamed for oftentimes feeling like I was getting the short end of the stick, 3) using sex as a weapon, or more specifically, constantly ridiculing my insistence on wanting to wait until the moment was right by threatening to “move on” to a more “mature” woman, 4) and as a result of his frustration on that front, there were several attempts at “educating” me on the issue, one of which was a near date-rape situation, which I talked about here (scroll).

But as bad as all that was, it was the one unconventional method I remember him using that was the most damaging long-term. My bf and I attended the same high school, and would frequently bump into each other during the course of the day. There were times when we stopped and talked to each other, hugged each other, etc, but then there were the times when he would walk right by me as though I didn’t even exist. One minute he’d be very affectionate, but then after the next class we’d walk by each other and I’d try to get his attention and he would outright ignore me. This would sometimes go on for days, what with me wondering what it was that I said or did that caused him to be angry. I would agonize for hours on end, analyzing things that I had said and done in fruitless attempts at trying to resolve the problem. Eventually, he would end up talking to me again, but he never would explain to me why he would go from hot to cold in the blink of an eye. This went on off and on for about six months. I found out later that his days-on-end ignoring of me was a “loyalty test” of sorts, to see what lengths I would go through to get his attention again, and to see if I would ever break down and ask mutual friends for help, which to him would have been the ultimate sign of “betrayal.”

Thankfully, I moved on to better things and eventually forgot about the jerk, but the damage to my self-worth had been done. It took me years and years to get to a point where I didn’t question and obsess over the rightness or wrongness of my every move every single day. It still happens, but much less than it used to.

It may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I’m just thankful I made it through my grade-school years with only minor (in the scheme of things) scarring. I wish instead of reading about Megan Meier’s suicide, that she was still around, learning in school and learning to enjoy life, and telling us all in a few years about how she made it through the rough and tumble of her teenage years, too.

It is always sad to hear/read about the death of someone so young, but it is especially heartbreaking when you read that their death occurred as a result of them taking their own life, because you can surmise from it that the person was in so much pain, felt so alone and unwanted, that they figured life was better off without them in it.

Megan was a little girl who was loved very much by her family. Please remember them – and her – in your thoughts and prayers.

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10 Responses to “When wanting to be accepted becomes overwhelming”

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  1. camojack says:

    Teenage angst…has claimed many a young life.

    Sad indeed

  2. Dan says:

    I hope these awful people’s names are well known in their community so that they can be properly shunned. In my opinion, shunning should be used much more than it is in modern society.

    There is no law against what these people did. But we don’t always need the law to enforce social norms. Nor do we need to resort to destruction of property and physical attacks. Shunning should not be used for every minor social infraction – only for the most egregious cases. This case certainly qualifies.

    I understand people don’t want to hurt the kids of the offending family. Sorry kids – it is your own and your parent’s bad behavior that caused you to be pariahs in your town. You can remain where you are and feel despised by everyone everyday – or you can go away. Move far away where people don’t know you. Start over again in a new place. That will be difficult and painful. Yes – and it should be. You can build a new life. If you act decently you can be welcomed as respected members of your new town. But you shouldn’t have the happy comfortable life you had before – you don’t deserve it and you old neighbors don’t deserve to have to look at you.

    Maybe then the whole family will learn a lesson. It will also serve as a lesson for generations in the town they are driven from. Harsh? Damn right – and certainly no less than they deserve. Unchristian? Perhaps (forgiveness has never been my strong suit) but not entirely. As long as those people remain in that community a festering wound will never heal. And if these heartless people feel compelled to leave town the family of this poor girl can perhaps feel that some justice has been done. Some significant punishment should be meted out. The law can’t do it. The people of the community should take it upon themselves to, lawfully, execute justice themselves. Shunning is perfectly suited to this situation.

  3. So Cal Jim says:

    This story has haunted me too. It’s almost impossible for me to fathom the small minded and incredibly cruel behavior on the part of the ex-friend’s mother. It’s bad enough that an immature teenager would do something like that but what kind of so called adult could be so monumentally petty? I’m at a total loss to find the words to express my utter contempt and disgust with that woman and her daughter. I guess it only goes to show that wickedness and evil aren’t confined to big or sweeping acts that affect millions. There’s plenty of small and personal wickedness to go around.

    My heart goes out to Megan Meier’s family. And I hope and pray that someday, the ex-friend’s mother will feel the crushing shame and sorrow that any decent person would feel after engaging in such wanton cruelty.

  4. R. Sherman says:

    Good points, well made.

    Some of us, me included, kept going during those high school years with the belief that things would be better down the road: college, career, whatever. It is truly a a shame that parents are more concerned about how their children do socially in high school, in terms of popularity and so forth, than in trying to instill a sense of maturity and a long term outlook on things. After all, the mother in this case was concerned about what Megan might have been saying about her daughter. The appropriate response: Who cares?

  5. Candace says:

    This is a chilling story, particularly when I have a 13-yr-old daughter.

    Thank you for helping me educate her on the quasi-reality of Facebook, Nexopia etc.

  6. Viola Jaynes says:

    What a heart breaking story. I just posted on suicide on my side as well since a fellow blogger shared that someone else committed suicide as well. I feel deeply sadden by this event.

    Teen years are tough and as mine grow up and get closer to that age, I hope and pray that we will have the wisdom to guide them through those years.

    I never dated, ever, during my teens or early twenties because of fear of rejection. This story reminds me why I would never let anyone that close to me.

    My heart goes out to Megan Meier’s family and all those who have been touched by this tragic event.

  7. Tony says:

    I remember a few years ago, a nasty girl from the neighborhood IMed my daughter, and got into a conversation. This girl drifted the conversation to how nasty another girl was, and got my daughter involved in it. Turns out that other girl was sitting with the “nasty girl” looking over her shoulder.

    The girls also enjoyed doing three-ways on the phone with another girl who thought she was in a “two-way”.

    It allowed me to do three things:

    1. Give my girls a lesson on gossiping so that they would never be “caught” like this again.

    2. Understand that teen-aged girls can be the nastiest life forms on the planet.

    3. Use my background in computer forensics to track this “nasty girl” and turn her in to her ISP for violation of her AUP.

  8. DanCnKC says:

    Ms. Drew used the same same exact mode of operation as a child predator enacts in the seduction of a child.

    Drew posed as a member of the opposite sex and spent weeks and weeks luring this girl into a relationship.

    But yet it went further. The adult Drew formed a heated relationship with the 13 year old girl. She worked hard to gain the girl’s confidence. She exploited the girl intimately by posing as a boyfriend. She enacted the same methods child predators use to groom their victims.

    Then the woman emotionally raped this child. She took her supposed love and sexual stimulation and crushed the girl emotionally with them -all while knowing the girl was unstable.

    This adult and her friends calculated the best way to achieve maximum mental distress and then carried out their plan. Even enticed others to join in the destruction of this child.

    There are manslaughter convictions on the books that won based on looser ties to a person’s death than this. Child predators go to jail for following this scenerio.

    Ms. Drew is the clear definition of a child predator. She used the internet to stalk, entice and lure a 13 year old girl into a romantic, sexually sparked, full fledged relationship. She then used that power to inflict Great Mental Harm to this child… A physical rape and mental rape are both as equally destructive to a 13 year old child. Drew knew this (or should have known this) and still proceeded unabated.

    This is so far beyond “Harassment”, this is full fledged exploitation of a child.

    Is the local police of this county out of their minds to think that NO charge will stick?

    Is the local District Attorneys office serious if they don’t think this girl’s rights have been thoroughly trampled by a grown woman?

    Does the DA really expect people to roll over while this woman goes without so much as even a single charge?

    Does even a speeding ticket register a more serious offense than this?

    _____________

    Last of all, the very worst. Ms. Drew remains defiant and indignant. Claims the girl was already on the edge mentally.

    Ms. Drew denies wrong doing and insists she bears no guilt in her actions.

    She justifies her actions as being “protective of her daughter”… Please tell me how she was protecting someone by mind raping a 13 year old child?

    To add insult to incredible injury…. The Drews file charges against the family that lost this child.

    The Drews, in a final act of ultimate hate, seek to hurt this family who lost a beloved child. She seeks to harm them financially….

    Just as MS. Drew attacked an innocent little girl, Ms. Drew now attacks a grief stricken family – again seeking to harm someone’s very life.

    This woman is evil incarnate

    This woman has county officials protecting her…

    The same county officials who would put ANY other child exploiter in jail.

    It would appear we have a few corrupt city officials. Officials who need to be fired

    Perhaps the county detectives on the case need some scrutiny. Did they really investigate this crime thoroughly? Apparently not.

    There had better be some charges…and some heads better role from this complete mismanagement of law enforcement.