It's two years to the day that I parted ways with several people I thought were very good friends. People I had known for years. People I loved and trusted. And the parting was for stupid reasons. At least from my POV they are. And that's all I can give you, my point of view.
To start from the beginning, the actual parting began back in October of 2008. My Grandma had just died a couple weeks before the first incident. I wasn't ever going to be the same again. Never. One of the most important people in my life had died. I was changed and shattered and devastated and just plain sad. I missed her and the people closest to me knew it.
It was also election year and things were heated, to say the least, on the message board I run. I've always had very few rules for the board. The main ones were say what you want but be respectful of each other and if you're going to talk politics, do so at your own risk. The subject is volatile and the two sides on the board were getting ugly. At this time, with everything else I was going through, I was really not having any of it. All parties involved in the current argument were my friends and as such I expected a little more respect and understanding than I got when I went into the argument and asked for all involved to step back and be peaceful. That is all I did. Only one person of the 3 who were arguing stepped back and understood. The other two decided that instead of backing off the argument they would, separately, tell me off via email. Was I shocked? Absolutely. And it was the beginning of the end.
Things were no longer the same after that. Everything I did was wrong. Every thing I said was wrong. Every decision I made was wrong. And the group of friends divided more and more. I guess I should have expected a blow up at some point. Can you really put fourteen women together in a group situation and not eventually have a blow up? I thought that all these women were interesting, mature, fun and a bit diverse. They were all women I respected. And for a long time we had a hell of a great group dynamic. But I had to ask for peace. Stupid me.
And not long after the political discussion blow up, one of our friends lost her mother. These women sent me a beautiful plant and flower arrangement and a very generous check as a gift after Grandma died so I took the lead on the gift because I felt like I wanted to give back. I collected the money and then with the help of the group we chose a lovely arrangement and decided to send her a few bottles of her favorite wine. But I ran into a problem. This friend lives in Indiana and sending alcohol through the mail to Indiana is tricky, to say the least. So we needed a Plan B. And every plan I came up with was met with derision, heated derision, until I finally threw up my hands and said I was done and that someone else needed to make the decision.
But that wasn't the final end yet. I loved these women, I kept going back for more and more punishment. I clearly hadn't been punished enough yet for asking my friends to be peaceful on my message board. The perceived "smack down" I gave them, now a month later, was still stuck in their craw and I had to be pay, big time. So it was then that another volatile subject was broached on the board. This time it was how the phrase "Merry Christmas" was becoming a thing of the past and the original poster was saddened by it. In come the vultures to tell people who believe in Christmas how hypocritical they are, how wrong they are, how selfish and petty they are to people who don't celebrate it. It was no longer a discussion of semantics or inclusion, it was an exercise in ridicule of people who believed in something. And again I stepped in but instead of speaking I just removed the whole topic and hoped it was over. It wasn't. Because I was wrong again. And again I had to hear about it. And when one of my moderators decided to take the heat for me, I was wrong again. The moderator told this person I now loosely call a friend, that the topic was getting rude and off subject so she removed it. The two got into a heated argument privately via emails and still, I was to blame. The "friend" told me about the argument and expected me to 1) take her side and b) remove the moderator from her position. The moderator who had been with me for 10 years was now to be removed because she had an argument with this "friend." That wasn't happening. And I was wrong again. Because at some point in my life I had told this "friend" that I would always have her back and that came hurtling at my face over and over again when I did not remove the moderator nor did I intervene on a private argument.
Every day I was accused of a new crime. Every day I was crying my eyes out for missing my Grandma and having to deal with all this nonsense. And yet, I still didn't want to lose my friends. I was determined to get through this and back to how we were. That is until the lies started. I can tolerate a lot, but lying is not something I can sit back and accept. Especially when the lies are about me and "friends" I've known for years and years spread them, start them or perpetuate them.
So many lies. The worst of which is that I'm a thief. Not only were people told that I kept their money when posters so generously donated to the board to keep it running, but I also found out that I'm a shoplifter. As if it wasn't ludicrous enough to think that I would run off with some big old cash cow of donations, but a shoplifter too!? As I understand it, the story is that the man and I would go to a certain store, distract the employees and then fill our pockets with merchandise. Yeah that has never happened. The last time I shoplifted was when I was about 12 or 13 years old and stole a big Bonnie Bell Watermelon Lip Smacker from Clarkins on Rockside Rd. I can't even fathom how this story came into existence. But that's not all. I also found out that I hate another friends baby. Seriously. Yep, I'm a notorious baby hater. There's more I'm sure. More said in the hopes of destroying me and bringing down my website. But it didn't happen. In the end people know better than to listen to the rantings of a lunatic.
It hurt. It all hurt me a lot. I cried a lot. I talked to other friends about it a lot. And it changed me. It made me trust my instincts more. I had instincts about several of the women who ultimately left my life but I ignored those instincts. I don't know why I ignored them. And after the fact, I found out several other friends had similar instincts about them. Why did it take extreme pain to give them up? Do I regret any of it? Yes, absolutely. I regret that I stayed as long as I did and in retrospect anyone who would tell me off to such a degree only a few weeks after losing my Grandma was not a friend at all and it should have ended there. I regret that my message board was dragged into the mess. I regret that friends ended up divided and took sides. But I don't regret anything I did or said. Maybe I didn't handle everything in the best possible way, but I don't have regrets. I don't regret having a standard for respect on my message board and enforcing that standard even if it's a friend who is breaking the rule. I will never regret asking for peace because in the end, that was all I did. I'm sure other points of view on all this are different, but like I said, I can only give mine. And being as true to the incident as I can be without saying names, this is exactly what happened from my point of view.
And a funny thing happened when ultimately it was all over. I felt free. I felt like a weight had lifted off me that had been pinning me down for years. I didn't know how much energy it took to be a friend to this certain person. I didn't realize how being her friend kept me from other friends. I never realized I put people I cared about on the backburner because this friend was so needy. I renewed friendships that had been pushed off to the side. And I'm lucky, I'm damn lucky that those friends understood and welcomed me back into their lives. I learned a lot through this incident. I absolutely learned who my friends are. But I also learned to trust myself more. It only took me 43 years to figure that out.