Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Collateral Damage

For a few years now, I have been debating whether or not to write about an issue in my life. It's not my issue per se, but it affects me a great deal, especially more recently. I've tried to ignore it or take the high road by simply sitting back and doing nothing, but that became increasingly harder to do in the last few weeks. I'm putting this out there because I'm tired. The strange and escalating online behavior of an individual has gone past shocking to worrying me, and I'm really sick of saying nothing about it and pretending it's OK. It's not. When I write this all out, I assume it will look like the shenanigans of kids in middle school, but when this stuff happens in the adult world, it's unsettling.

In 2009, I *met* a woman through a mutual friend on Facebook. It was actually my boyfriend, Kevin, who introduced us. He had started coaching her sometime in October of that year, and, despite my initial first impression and a sense of uneasiness, we friended each other the following month. This woman and I had a few online chats and occasionally commented on each other's social media posts. Though she confided in me about a few of the issues she was facing at the time, I felt the need to keep my guard up and never really opened up to her, something I'm glad about now. By the summer of the following year, she seemed to want to keep her distance, and I was fine with that. From what I could gather, she was preoccupied with a guy. Our communications ended, and the only real tie that linked us together was Kevin. You can read his recap of events here.

Sometime in 2010, Kevin asked if I had been saying things about him to this woman or to anyone else. Apparently, she told him that I and one of Kevin's ex-girlfriends had been saying some unkind things about him. Both his ex and I denied having said anything, and this was enough for me to realize his client was not someone with whom I wanted to socialize. I quickly blocked her on Facebook and other social media websites. I assumed I would never have to deal with any of these kinds of antics from her again. Out of sight, out of mind seemed appropriate, in theory anyway. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Long before she and Kevin began having issues, I found out that she had tried to convince Kevin to lock me out of the house where we were staying. It's true that Kevin and I had our ups and downs and were in a down spell at the time, but I still find it odd that someone I hardly knew and still hardly know, and someone I had made every effort to be kind to, would suggest something like this. He didn't, of course. When she and Kevin had their first falling out, I wasn't surprised, and when she came back to him later and requested that he coach her once more, I and many of his friends gently warned him that it might not be in his best interest to take her on as a client again. When their second falling out occurred, it also wasn't a surprise, but what happened after that was, at least the severity of it was. When things seemed more than a little bit out of hand, at least from my perspective, I tried to encourage Kevin to go to the police, but he didn't think the police could really do anything and didn't think things would continue. They did.

Things turned ugly after the second falling out, and she took many opportunities to complain about Kevin online, sometimes anonymously on Let's Run and sometimes on her blog or on social media. When he finally responded, she went off the deep end to the point where Kevin ended up in a hearing after she filed a petition for a restraining order that was filled with something other than facts. The hearing was bizarre. Kevin purchased a recording of it that's now in my hands. To me, it seemed like the judge was aware that not everything was adding up, and toward the end of the proceedings, he said that he felt Kevin's former client was doing and saying these things in an effort to make Kevin look like a bad person. He also said that Kevin could take her to court for defamation of character and for lack of payment, but it was a hearing only and didn't address those kinds of issues. At one point, the judge turned to her and said, "I suggest that you do not post anything publicly about Mr. Beck online..." He added that he felt it was best that the two of them leave each other alone. Her response was to go home and immediately post something publicly online about Kevin, and he is no longer quiet about pointing out her inconsistencies.

Since then, she has continued to take both direct and indirect swipes at Kevin; me; our coauthor, Brad; many of Kevin's friends; anyone living, coaching or training in Boulder; people with eating disorders (how we are stupid); and at Boulder in general. Oh, what a crummy place it is to be. I'm pretty sure Kevin is no longer going to let any of her attacks slide, which is understandable considering nothing seems to work to stop her, not even a judge suggesting she do just that.

Some of the more hurtful comments she has said about me include stating outright that I haven't eaten since high school, that I have "huge problems", that I'm a "legendary anorexic" who is in no position to coach, that I enable or even go on drinking benders with Kevin (I barely touch alcohol!) and, the worst, that I'm basically using my mom, counting on her dying, so that I can inherit her house. This last one is bogus, of course, but because I'm very close to my mom and love her dearly, it bothers me more than the others that show more about who she is as a person than about who I am. People who know me know the kind of person I am. I'm not worried about that. I'm very fortunate to have some incredible people in my life. There have been other mean-spirited remarks about me, but the gist is always the same, that I'm washed up, a failure, don't have a good job, that I'm a victim of domestic abuse etc.

I've never hidden the fact that I struggled with an eating disorder that nearly killed me, more so in the past, but I have put it out there in an effort to help others and let people know that it's OK to struggle. We are not our illnesses. She can rip on that all she wants, but to bring my very kind, very able-bodied, older mother into things is hitting pretty damn low. She tried to claim that Kevin somehow manipulated or edited these tweets, but I got them directly from her twitter feed:

Kimberly Duclos boulder runner
This isn't directed at me, but my mother and I are collateral damage.

Kimberly Duclos twitter
More of the same kinds of tweets by Kimberly Duclos.

Though something like the tweet below, as absurd as it is, isn't directed at me in particular, it's directed at runners who have some type of an eating disorder, and I fall or have fallen into this category, as do many others, I would guess, especially if you take a broad definition of eating disorders and don't limit it to anorexia, bulimia and binge eating:

Kimberly S Duclos Boulder
Another odd remark from Kim Duclos.

I don't know. This is something I will never quite understand. In general, I try very hard to be a decent person. I'm not perfect, but I do my best to be helpful, kind, compassionate and considerate. In this case, I'm really not sure how to handle it. Doing nothing and looking the other way hasn't helped. If anything, things have gotten worse.

It's possible that there is some hurt under all these outbursts. I think it's misdirected at me, but I know that finding your true identity as a runner can be difficult. It might be that the falling out with Kevin, a coach who helped her reach some pretty lofty goals in running, caused some conflict in her mind. The coach-athlete relationship, good or bad, can be a hard one to let go of, but this is a lot of speculation on my part. I don't know enough about the situation to make any solid conclusions. There may be deeper issues at play, too. All I know is that I want all this bullshit to stop. Whatever grudge she has against him or, for whatever unknown reason, me, I just want her to go live her life and be as happy as she claims to be in between venomous bouts of tweeting or posting my name on Let's Run, Twitter or Facebook. There's no need to constantly and relentlessly drag other people into this fight. These kinds of attacks are so unnecessary and so very cruel. I may be expanding the scope of conflict by posting this, but my intent is to stop pretending like this shit doesn't affect me. It does. It's upsetting and weird and even a little bit scary. 

And obviously, this is my perspective. Again, I don't know this woman and have no idea why I am so often the brunt of her online remarks or even why Kevin is. All I know is that I want out of this situation and really hope something will eventually help her stop lashing out and move on with her life.  


  1. Over the years, I've become so used to seeing this moron's behavior almost entirely from the perspective of its effects on me, and even when I've looked at what she's said about and done to other people, it's usually been through the lens of my own experience.

    So seeing this account, written 100 percent independently of my own input and ideas, is pretty jolting. Sure, I knew you've obviously had no causative role in any of her bullshit and that your only offense was being close to me. And I've obviously known how you've felt about being a target of it. But being reminded of just how long this has continued, and all because she is a greedy and mendacious turd...

    I have a minor semantic disagreement, though. Kim's shots at you don't represent collateral damage except in the strictest sense that she wouldn't know you existed were it not for me. She has systematically taken direct swipes at you, Colleen, both your and Colleen's moms, Brad, all sorts of people in Worcester (believe it or not, the ugly stories have continued piling up since I got here), the entire Boulder community, and various others all because you deign to be my friends. As you know, she has managed to alienate the few people she has contacted whom I coached in the past. That's not collateral damage, it's just an expansion of the scope of her hostilities.

    Some tiny part of me at one point wanted to feel sorry for her because she's obviously troubled, but this evaporated a long time ago. She is a fundamentally shitty person even in phases when she is somewhat well-adjusted and functional, and her mental problems only serve as substrate for her avarice, anger, and lack of remorse. She is the perfect storm of social unmanageability, with her character flaws and her ethanol-driven psychiatric flare-ups complementing one another and clamoring for supremacy.

    She fails to understand that we don't actively root against her, though. I don't think she has either the basic wiring or the wherewithal to succeed in computer science, but I don't root against it. She will always be a remorseless ass, but if nothing else if she were actually good at something and not basically trading sex for food and shelter in an theoretically outmoded relationship model, she might actually orient her days toward something other than making a complete fool of herself to the few people who even know who she is (although a lot of Brad's runners now do).

    Anyway, I miss you and I hope this helped. <3

    1. I actually wish she were happy and doing her own thing, especially if it meant she would stop ripping on everyone and Boulder.

      Miss you too. xo


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