One of the things I like about the inflation community is that it's a haven. We are all freaks, but when we are freaks together, it feels better. I take that seriously and, since I've been active and visible for so long, I try to help any newbies who send me mail or look like they're just coming to terms with their fetish. Sometimes it devolves into "Can you send me pictures and videos?" but sometimes it's heartfelt, someone who's just looking to make that connection with a like-minded individual for their own sanity.
But what if that person turns out not to be sane?
A few months ago someone came to me with a shy email intro; we'll call him Joe. The email was articulate, polite, a little too supplicant, but clearly someone who was happy but scared to come out of his shell about his BE fetish. Cool, said I, and I did actually send him some photos and stuff. In a fit of generosity, I even went so far as to loan him a login to one of the pay sites, which I'd never done before and will no doubt never do again. But I was really moved at the time and felt it was the right thing to do.
Within two days or so, Joe started posting in the community, using my name in a way that, to me, looked like an endorsement, like he was my protege. And suddenly I realized, hey, maybe I don't want this complete stranger to take his enthusiasm down the wrong path. So I changed my paysite login, figuring he'd had plenty of time in two days to download material for his own use. I think I was too quick to give that much support, and he was too quick to take advantage of it. We had some awkward emails, but it seemed smoothed over.
Joe is an author, so he started discussing his stories with me. I suggested he post them to one of the established Yahoo groups, like Inflatality or one of the writing groups, where he was likely to get established quickly and get more of feedback. No, said Joe--he wanted to start his own group. It was that same intense enthusiasm at work, and I couldn't dissuade him. The group was created, a few stories were posted, only about 100 people joined, and then nothing appeared for three or four months. Oh well, I thought. Joe's gone.
Suddenly, Joe resurfaces in email asking why I haven't written to him. The mail turns dark, talking about how confused he is and bringing up religious concerns about his fetish and...let's just say it's clear Joe is enduring lots of inner turmoil, big-league issues that weigh on his psyche; he may have been looking for acceptance from the community, but it doesn't look like he's given it to himself yet. The mail sounded a little crazed, a little desperate, and frankly, a little dangerous. Now the "enthusiasm" I've mentioned seemed to turn more toward mild mania. I felt very uncomfortable.
I knew he was writing me because he had nowhere else to turn, but then I realized, he does have somewhere else to turn. So I said, quite clearly and firmly, that this was out of my league, and he needed to talk to a real counselor--a therapist or a clergyman--to work out his issues, because they were deeper than someone like myself could or wanted to handle, and he should do it right away. It was hard for me to say that, because I DO want to help people who are confused about their fetish, but I also know when I'm out of my depth. It's the first time I've ever written to someone with this kind of advice, but it's not worth risking someone's actual mental or physical health over cartoon boobs.
A month passes. I figure Joe has either taken the advice or has simply walked away to clear his head. But then a mail shows up that says I'm the one that missed the boat. "We BE guys have to stick together" and "If that's how you took it, you should be sorry" and similar phrases. (Not "I'm sorry if I came on too strong," but rather "you should be sorry.") Throw in some swearing for emphasis and some further expressions of core insecurity, and you have a mail reflecting anger, guilt, and fear of abandonment that I know I can't answer, because it seems like an abusive relationship already. Am I in over my head? Did I encourage the wrong kind of behavior? Was I too open too fast, and did that set the wrong tone?
Regardless, I have not felt comfortable with this since day three, so I've blocked Joe's emails and removed myself from his Yahoo group. I'm not a therapist and I don't want to be. But this kind of stuff doesn't strike me as normal behavior. Joe's articulate mails reflect really intense highs, really intense lows...isn't that what they call bipolar disorder now? That's not for me to diagnose, frankly, but I'm playing it safe in the meantime, and I'm not up for being manipulated. I stand by my final comment to Joe--seek help from someone more qualified than strangers on the Internet. I don't think it's about BE.
I'd like to think that we're all just a little wacky, that we are a community of deviants but not dangerous individuals. But stuff like this reminds me that everybody brings something unique to the community, whether it be good or bad or both. Sometimes, you can help your community members. Other times, you can't.