Protect Yourself Before You Connect Yourself: Mary’s Story

In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Sgrouples will be releasing a series of “Protect Yourself Before You Connect Yourself” stories every week for the remainder of October! So what happens when Mary takes a much needed vacation?

Mary still woke at 6 am every morning, although she no longer had anyone for whom she had to make a meal. She poured herself a bowl of cereal and sat staring at the pictures on her refrigerator.

It was as if she was torturing herself. Day after day of remembering that her marriage of twenty-three years had ended. Day after day without her daughters, who had grown up and left the house – watching after them had been the only true job she had ever had. Her neighborhood friends had spent a considerable amount of time trying to convince her to get a job (something she knew she would have to do soon, anyway).

“Something to pass the time…Or find a hobby! You love those romance novels. Maybe you could join a book club.” Janice had said.

“Reminding myself that there is no more romance in her life? Sounds fun,” she had retorted sarcastically.

“Sign up for a dating site?” Janice replied weakly.

Mary rolled her eyes just thinking about it. She didn’t want a new life, she wanted her old one back. But that just wasn’t going to happen. She shoveled a spoon full of Cocoa Puffs into her mouth and stood up, eventually walking over to the fridge.

Tim and the girls in Florida, Tim and the girls at the Rocky Mountains…She was never in the pictures because she had always been taking them. She was caring for everyone else while they enjoyed themselves and they had repaid her by leaving her to stew in her own misery. One by one, she began to rip the photos down.

Rip! She knew she couldn’t really blame the girls.

Rip! After all, they were just doing what children do.

Rip! But Tim…

It was then that she had a stroke of genius. Staring at her ex-husband’s face surrounded by palm trees, she knew what she had to do: get out. Take a vacation for herself for once in her life. She quickly dropped all fractions of photo in her hands and rushed to her laptop.

She had just enough money left over for a plane ticket to the destination of her choice and she could figure out the rest when she got there. It was the perfect plan! Running from her problems and pampering herself…Why hadn’t she thought of this before?! Much better than some book club.

But where did she want to go? To be completely honest – she didn’t care. And the thought of randomizing the process gave her more excitement than she had had in months. Mary briefly considered setting up some kind of poll on her social media pages.

Thank goodness for the Internet, she thought. What her friends failed to realize was that she had indeed taken up a hobby in her family’s absence. She devoted countless hours as of late to teaching herself the ins and outs of all the latest trendy sites. It was much easier than people her age seemed to think it was. At least she could take pride in that.

Instead, she wandered over to the globe that Tim had insisted on keeping in the office. He thought it looked “smart.” Only now did she realize that he hadn’t taken it with him when he moved out. Spinning it several times, she closed her eyes and pointed before walking back to the computer and typing one word to share with all of her friends and followers:

Australia.”

Seven and a half months later, the front door to Mary’s house began to unwillingly open. It had been a while since anyone had entered the premises. In fact, Mary was much changed since her last encounter with the place.

As her friends had learned from the many anecdotes, pictures, and “check-ins” she had been posting Online, she had gotten a job with the first diner she had found and hadn’t looked back. She spent her days by the beach and her weekends adventuring and doing things she never thought she would be capable of. And it was invigorating!

It was with reluctance that she finally decided it was time to come home. All the same, it would be nice to return and prove to everyone that she could fix herself without their suggestions.

Crossing the threshold, she began to head towards the living room where she intended to put her things down, but suddenly something prohibited this. Holding her bags above the coffee table, she slowly realized it wasn’t there. In fact, none of her things were there.

Mary set her bags down and began frantically walking around the house. She had been cleaned out. All that was left was some pillows strewn about, the pictures on the walls, the pieces of what looked like a few broken plates, and that stupid globe. Trying to breath, she got out her phone and angrily dialed Tim’s number. But he had had nothing to do with it.

After hanging up, she leaned against the nearest wall and let herself slide to a sitting position. She put her head in her hands, realizing at last what had happened. How could she have been so stupid? She had basically advertised the fact that she was away from home. She might as well have put out a large, obnoxious, electric sign that says, “I’m gone. Please rob me!” with a smiley face.

Calm down, she told herself considering for a moment heading straight back to airport. But the doorbell rang at that exact moment and Mary would have done anything for a helping hand right now. She pulled herself up and answered it to find Janice, whom she promptly hugged tighter than ever.

In the coming months, the neighborhood was more supportive of Mary and she was thankful. The police were extremely helpful and she eventually built a new life. In some ways, the whole experience had been like wiping the slate clean. That being said, she took the necessary precautions Online and realized that there was something in this town that she was still passionate about after all.

Taking up a position at a local school, she headed a program teaching children and adults safe social media. And she even found herself going on the occasional date. She still woke at 6 am every morning, but the photos on her fridge no longer taunted her and she was truly happy.


Images from: http://sweateveryday.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/an-ode-to-cocoa-puffs/ , http://www.thisnext.com/store/B1186BB7/Levenger/office-supplies, http://save365.info/front-door/