Tuesday, June 1, 2004

In Mourning …

The last two or three days have easily been among the most difficult in my online life. For the past five years, I have been involved with an online artistic brainstorming and support group. I have achieved many goals and it has been very rewarding. Up until a few weeks ago, I would have counted these people among my closest friends. As a group, we were all there for each other, would prop each other up when things were getting us down. Our weekly chats were always hilarious. This is all gone now. Because of a misunderstanding and a battle of personalities, the group has completely imploded in the most hateful way possible. Women who were friends exploiting each other’s weaknesses in order to deliberately hurt them. Mudslinging and manipulation at its absolute worst.

I feel as if someone has died, or worse. I can’t even express how badly this hurts. I am so glad that it was online, rather than in person, because it was enough, in text, to send my blood pressure through the roof and give me a screeching headache. In person, I probably would have been much worse. Ridiculous, really, when you consider that I’ve only met one of these people face to face. I guess it is a testament to just how connected people can become online.

When the group first began and I was invited to join, I hesitated. It wasn’t that I didn’t think the group was a good idea. It was because it was comprised entirely of women. For various and sundry reasons, I really do not get along well with women. There is too much going on under the surface, too many subversive elements, too much manipulation. In my experience, women can be incredibly catty, and shallow, and will not hesitate, if upset over the least little thing, to exploit any means they can to hurt someone. I know how that sounds, especially coming from a woman, but to be honest, a group of women is a total nightmare to me. Feminists all around the world are cringing, I’m sure, but I’ve upset them before – when I took my husband’s name. :)

To be completely honest, I much prefer the company of men. Yes, I know how that sounds, too, but I find having male friends so much easier on the head. I find that, with men, you know almost immediately where you stand. Even when I was in high school, most of my friends were male, and we kept in touch for years and years. The only thing that changed was when I got married. Suddenly it was like I had left the planet or mutated or something. As if I were “off-limits", even though all of these friendships, despite the occasional witty double-entendre, were completely and totally platonic. The first year of my marriage was the loneliest year of my life. My husband was completely tied-up with the family business and I suddenly discovered that my friends no longer had time for me.

It’s been eight years since then, and I’ve learned to adapt, but it’s been difficult. I have learned that it seems to be socially acceptable to have a friendship with a male if he is in a mentor capacity, which is great, because in my line of work, I have many treasured friends who fit into that category. But if they were my own age, I’m sure it would be absolutely scandalous. In fact, I am just now enjoying the regeneration of an old friendship with a male who is my own age, and while it is so nice to finally have someone I can be myself with (and enjoy my favourite types of witty banter), in the back of my mind, I’m worried what people might think. It’s ridiculous.

So most of the time, I try to fit in and be “one of the girls", at least enough to not seem strange or stand-offish. Some female friends I have I truly treasure, but I don’t really let them in too much. A little, but not enough to know how to really get to me.

I know I sound cynical and cranky, and that reading this is probably painful. I’m sorry. I’m still reeling from the demise of my “support” group. I’m still hurting from things that were hurled, and am still struggling to understand how and why things happened the way they did. I’m disappointed in these people. Those I thought were brave turned out to be complete cowards. Those I thought were honest turned out to be master manipulators. Those I thought were friends have turned out to be sworn enemies. I’ve had the rug pulled out completely from under me and I’m still in mid-air. Most of all, I think I’m disappointed in myself, because deep down I’m kicking myself for getting involved in the group in the first place.

Thanks for letting me get this out, dear reader. I’m not sure it’s expressed as well as it could be, but at least it’s out now.

Maybe now I can move on.

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