He wore a straw hat, and this, I was told, was the way I would identify him, should I see him around. I looked for many months, but I never quite met up with him, though I knew the meeting place well. However, one day, I was with my friend in her vehicle, driving down La Rambla and we spotted him. She offered him a ride. Then, we sat and spoke for a long time at lunch. I told him I’d find him again, and I did, many mornings at the coffee place. We sat outside together for hours, talking about just about anything.
He taught me many new notions about the soul and auras. I had assumed this was a spiritual matter, but my friend saw it as science. He told me that one could see an aura, or some people could, and he said there was scientific proof of its existence in each of us. I accepted this, since it made sense, the way he explained it. There was so much more, too, many things we spoke about.
He told me he’d been a sculptor but had to stop, due to having pulled a muscle. I was unclear about how long ago this was. He got the pain checked out a number of times. He told me, “Maybe it’s psychosomatic, maybe all in my head.” I told him that certainly no doctor should turn him away claiming “all in your head,” that to do that was certainly not okay. He told me he felt low, that maybe it was “depression.” I responded by asking that if he felt pain bad enough to stop doing his wonderful art, then surely, wouldn’t that cause anyone to become depressed? We spoke at length about the need for passion in ones life. I told him I wanted nothing more than to see him regain that passion.
A mutual friend took him to get some tests, to see what the matter was. I ran into our mutual friend in town. He said the whole experience was rather “surreal.” Then he told me. My friend has cancer.
I didn’t realize how far along that cancer was. Not until just last night.
Another friend took him to the hospital. They kept him two months. I ran into that friend at a party a week or so ago. He explained, “I had no idea why he called, why he chose me in particular. He reached out to me and said the pain was so bad he could not sit or stand.”
During the two months, many people visited. He was loved by many here. We tried to get things to him that he might need. However, as it is in any hospital, it’s not too safe keeping valuables around. He told me he felt frustrated that bills and other affairs were piling up at home. I sure know that “limbo” feeling, when you are in a hospital and these practicalities pile up.
I had to travel to the city Monday. I told him ahead of time and tried to estimate my time of arrival. It must have been around 4pm that I got to his bedside.
He looked small, I mean, really small, like he was sunken into his bed. He was cross and grumpy at first, but then, cheered up, and we began to joke around as we often did. The whole time, he didn’t once sit up. He explained that he was in too much pain. I knew he’d be discharged the next day, and there was talk of surgery to relieve the pain from a pinched nerve. I asked myself how he would manage on his own, if he was so immobilized by pain. I knew he very much wanted to get home.
We spoke of the future. He told me he planned to turn his life around. He wanted to be more social, inviting guests over regularly. He told me he looked forward to my visit. Me and Puzzle. I told him that he was good at saving money, but maybe too good, maybe he shouldn’t be too much of a penny-pincher at the expense of personal comfort. He said he was hiring his neighbor a few times a week to cook and clean for him. “I don’t know how to cook,” he confessed. He was excited about his decision. He said he would live like royalty.
Shouldn’t we all? We are sacred. All of us. We need to honor ourselves, not deny, nor, conversely, indulge in greed, but to be respectful of ourselves.
He was set to be released Tuesday. This, indeed occurred. He tried to call me Tuesday night but I didn’t find out till the next morning, that is, yesterday. I came as soon as I could for breakfast, which turned out to be a rather late lunch. I laugh now, because he had me pick up a kilo of bacon on the way over. When I asked for this at the mercado, the women behind the counter asked me to repeat back. “Si, uno kilo,” I responded, shrugging. I explained that this was what my friend has asked for. I responded “Si” when they asked if I wanted the bacon sliced. I knew he was feeling hopeful and wanted to entertain many guests. But a kilo of bacon is one helluva lot.
I walked to his place, thinking I’d like to know the way before making the trip by bus. I couldn’t bring Puzzle, because it was too hot to take her that far. It wasn’t hard to find his house, with the sign out front declaring the home’s name. Our homes all have names, much like one would name a pet or new baby. El Refugio. That I know of, he’s not the only expat to give his home this name. What a beautiful land here, and its people so kind and caring!
It was so good to see him. His neighbor cleaned for a while, taking out the old rug and mopping the floor. We sat outdoors with coffee. Then, we came inside. The day was ending. Now, night.
I picked up groceries for him so we could have a meal. He needed many things at the house, including dish detergent. Then, I cooked supper for him. He lay in bed while eating, trying to get in as much as he could. I was concerned that he couldn’t walk well on his own. I was afraid that if he were alone, he could fall while walking even a short distance from the bed to the chair, or to the bathroom. I suggested that I spend the night. I knew this was going to be more than just one night. I told myself I’d stay as long as he needed or wanted me. I took a cab back home, grabbed whatever I could think of, including Puzzle and her stuff, and then, cabbed back. He was asleep when I arrived, at 10:10 I figure.
I tried to be quiet. I brought Puzzle in, and she sniffed around. She barked a few times. I wasn’t sure why. She was clearly upset about something. I know why now. He was dying.
Last night, I didn’t sleep, or barely. I wondered if this was because I wasn’t accustomed to having anyone else around at night. I slept in an adjacent room. He stirred many times. I had no clue how he usually slept. I wondered why I heard no evidence of smoking in his breathing. No, it was something else I heard, and Puzzle heard it first. Puzzle is most always a sound and silent sleeper. Last night, she, too, stirred many times.
I slipped out in the morning, not wanting to wake him. I gathered twigs around the neighborhood. I came back and built a fire. A fire is sacred. It felt, somehow, like a rite. Later, I left again, figuring the local store was just opening. I managed to pick up many cleaning supplies for him and also more food. It was so late when I arrived back. Was it usual for him to sleep this late? I was putting groceries away and told myself I’d call a mutual friend and ask if he felt I should wake him or not.
Just then, the neighbor came knocking. She had a question but my Spanish wasn’t good enough for me to answer. She tried to wake my friend to ask him. We couldn’t rouse him. I knew then. This was beyond what either of us was equipped to handle. I phoned 911. I handed her my phone and she handed it to me. They had questions, which I answered. They were on their way.
When the police arrived, Puzzle seemed to accept their presence without any fuss. Two cops had arrived in one cop car. I had called our friend who came even before the cops. I tried to catch him up on what had happened. The police got a sheet around him, but he screamed in pain. I told them, “Dolor,” meaning paid. So instead, they gently lifted up the mattress under him, cradling him in the mattress so he’d feel less pain. Our friend followed the ambulance and met up with him. I stayed at his place, figuring that someone should be here. I knew that if anyone with bad intentions saw the ambulance leaving, they’d loot his home if they knew it was vacant. The neighbors were well familiar with this scenario. The same thing happened to me in Watertown once when I was taken by ambulance, but when they tried my door, I was already home! I assured everyone that Puzzle was a good watchdog but I didn’t want to leave her there alone.
I got a call not long after. They’d taken him to a local clinic. He was dehydrated. I knew he had been making a point of drinking plenty of fluids. Perhaps he didn’t take in enough. They were going to give him an IV, then send him home. Our mutual friend said two or three hours. I stayed put, waiting to hear if there was any more news.
I knew then, that staying with him had fallen into my hands. I was fine with that. Our friend called, saying the hospital personnel were saying there wasn’t much hope. He was coming home. I told myself I’d stay with him. I’d do what I could. I love this man, and this, I supposed, was how things were going to be for a while. It would all be okay.
In a way, it was. I took a nap with Puzzle. I awoke minutes before they arrived. I was outside, standing there with untied shoes and Puzzle. It wasn’t just our mutual friend, but two other expats as well. I cannot recall who it was that told me maybe I should put Puzzle inside. Then, I knew.
He had died. My dear friend, dead.
They wanted a towel. Why? To cover him, they said. Why was he in the car? Finally, someone explained. He had died en route. My friend had been holding his hand, assuring him. “You will be home soon.” She knew he understood, acknowledging her. That’s when he died.
I stood there, at the steps, holding Puzzle. They were telling me the cops would arrive soon. It took a while, then, they came, asking a few questions. I found his ID and handed it to them. I wanted to walk Puzzle. I asked one of our friends if he’d like to accompany me. I felt that perhaps he needed a breather, maybe just to chat and let out whatever would come out. The police had more questions. Then, I walked Puzzle for a bit so she could go to the bathroom. We were by ourselves.
I came back. The police were finished, but they said my friend’s body would need to be taken back so he could be officially pronounced dead. Before they left, I asked to see him. Why? Because the body is sacred.
I held Puzzle in one arm. She was calm. She placed her paw on his hand as I held it. I stroked him for a while. My friend.
I came back inside. I’m here now. It’s so silent here. His desktop computer is the loudest sound. A whir. White noise.
He’d told me earlier that he had papers for me. I was confused as to why he wanted me to have them. He said he’d had them on the table but the neighbor had moved them when she cleaned. He wanted me to find them. They were for me. About me, he said, though I wonder now why he said that. I haven’t looked too hard. I see several piles. I saw a file of bills and sales slips, another pile of more recent bills, that appeared to be stamped and paid.
I found photos. His sculptures. I’d never seen these before. One of his dreams was to teach someone his sculpting technique. To pass it on. I left the photos where I’d found them. On his table was a notebook, just a listing of when he’d had various medical appointments and a few other notes. A separate paper notated a few events that had occurred while he was hospitalized. These weren’t too detailed. The cancer had started in his lungs. “It doesn’t look good,” he had written. So it was.
He was my friend. Why it was that I felt obligated to tell this story at this time, I don’t know, except that we are all stories, our lives, our deaths. Our stories are sacred, and I take stories seriously. I believe my friend did, too.
What if a friend is being deceptive, thinks you’re nuts, wants out, and is afraid to admit it? What if you have been aware of this all along?
Imagine this: Two people following vastly different paths. One gets more and more into the MH system, more treatment, the other, who was previously entrenched in it, leaves.
We were friends, good friends, at the point where those paths met, very long ago, but now, she’s in the System, and whether she knows it or not, stuck in it, and I am doing fine completely out of it. Our worlds are vastly different.
Sounds like a great topic for a novel, doesn’t it? I think I’ll write it. A YA novel.
I’ve made so much effort but nothing works. We used to be much closer. Now, I have to twist her arm for a conversation. I don’t like doing that, because I feel like an imposition in her not-very-busy life. She won’t open up anymore, and we never share like we used to. I’m well aware of the distancing and ridiculous boundaries.
She’ll only discuss neutral topics. Some people cannot discuss certain things, and that’s fine, but now it’s down to “How’s the weather?” and not much else. I feel insulted because she acts like I don’t notice.
She does call sometimes, or states that she’d like me to call. I notice that she only talks to me when she’s lonely. I know she’s bored with her life. She has other people to chat with and I know I’m on the bottom of her call list. Does she realized I’m aware of this? She dumps me when the going gets rough, and comes back when I’m okay. When I noticed the pattern, I made a point of only calling her when I felt terrific and everything was fine. However, I’d call or write and let her know I was concerned every time bad luck came her way, if she let on.
I feel I’m banging against a door that’ll never open again. I told myself this two years ago. I even told my minister, who suggested maybe I shouldn’t be friends with this person whom I call “my on-again, off-again friend.” But I told him if I laugh at her rather predictable pattern, I’ll put up with it. He didn’t think it was a good idea to stay in a friendship that wasn’t working anymore.
Then there’s the credibility bit. She’s always seen me as delusional and paranoid. Every time I say something I hear that skepticism. “I see….” like a shrink who is listening to a patient talking about hearing aliens.
However, when you’ve been through the mass exodus of friends like I did, you put up with unsatisfactory relationships. I spoke with one guy who told me his solution was to “hang out with oddballs.” I feel that this is all part of the lowering of standards that happens due to psych labeling. After years of being told we have a brain disease, we think we don’t deserve quality relationships anymore. So we settle for anyone. Often, we put up with abuse longer than an undiagnosed person would, because we think, “This is all I deserve.”
Sadly, people like me might appear to be abuse magnets, but that’s not true. I was convinced by therapy that I deserved superficial, limited relationships, and had no chance at ever meeting anyone I could really talk to and enjoy hanging out with. This is yet another way that diagnosis does serious harm.
My friend is in therapy herself. I remember when she started, I was all for it. Now, I see the changes and I’m saddened. Some therapists will encourage their clients to label their friends. They will say, “Your friend is off meds so do you really think she’s credible?” Therapists, and especially psychiatrists, will compare psych meds to insulin.
Hint: In medical school they learn that the analogy is completely false. However, they learn in psychiatry rotation that this lie will convince most patients to take their pills and stop questioning.
Sadly, Big Pharma has us all convinced that anything but their drugs isn’t strong enough to control severe depression, severe psychosis, ADHD, or many other things like that. I have been depressed, too, horribly depressed, and was also convinced that the only solution was drugs. I thought, rather incorrectly, that if it was a drug, it would work better than a “natural” cure. The mentality of drugs being the cure-all had me convinced that I needed a complete arsenal daily, that my shrinks prescribed.
What if you learned there were methods that worked better? Wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity? Sadly, we tend to get so defensive about the drugs, that we insist that this is the only way. Of course, I was a true believer myself for decades till I realized the lie. Now, I look back, remembering how pissed off I’d get any time anyone suggested an alternative, or even, “Maybe you can get along with fewer pills.” Of course, I was just like anyone else, convinced that my life would be miserable without drugs.
It saddens me that my friend used to tell me, years ago, “You are so much more than a diagnosis.” That was before. Now, she only sees me through the lens of this invented diagnosis she’s concocted for me. Sadly, she probably discussed it with her therapist, too, who undoubtedly reinforced the idea that I am sick and there’s nothing she can do. So my friend decodes everything I say to fit the diagnosis she made for me.
No matter what I say, it goes through a set of filters now. Automatically, she assumes everything I say is delusional. But if by rare chance she believes me, I feel validated. I tell myself maybe the friendship can be saved. This doesn’t last long because she reverts to her usual disbelief once more. I hate feeling like this, like I am gasping for air in this relationship.
I’m in a much better situation now. I have quality friendships, people who want to spend time with me. I need to let the old stuff that’s so damaging out of my life. I think I’ll be happier. When something’s staring you in the face, you can’t keep pretending you don’t notice. I try to act polite on the phone but it’s sometimes so obvious I just want to hang up.
Personally, I think anytime a person diagnoses another with a psych diagnosis, it’s a way of gaining power over that person, belittling her, and excusing your own actions.
“I act distant because she’s crazy. Why believe her? What she says is ridiculous. She needs treatment. I’ve tried, but there’s nothing I can do.”
Whenever I heard that disbelief of everything I said, my reaction was to feel an intense need to “prove myself.” No one should ever have to prove themselves like that in ordinary conversation. I kept backing up everything I said, just to make sure I didn’t get that obvious “I see,” that roll of the eyes on the other end of the phone. Why do I bother? I have been asking this for a long time.
I can hear that “Julie is crazy but I will hold my tongue” from her when we speak. I hate to inform her, but her silence has been giving her away all this time. I have to face up to this because I’m tired of yet another fake friendship.
I hesitate to publish this but I know she’s disgusted with my blogging and never reads what I write. That figures, huh? If by chance she reads this, I’m not ashamed of my opinion on the topic, and have no need to hide how I feel. I say all this because I feel others might benefit.
I posted the following on my friend’s timeline:
“Hello [name withheld], this is my Christmas gift to you. I guess you don’t want to be friends anymore. I thought I was gonna fall apart over it but I guess I respect you too much to do so. Recently I realized that just cuz someone doesn’t want to be friends doesn’t mean it’s a disaster. Nor does it mean that person was never my friend. In fact, I value our time together very much. Even though you chose to not speak to me anymore. I suppose I will never learn the reason. I guess you decided you had no interest in staying friends and that was that. Some folks do that all the time, make a switcheroo just to change things up a bit. I respect whichever you choose. Julie and Puzzle”
I posted this on my friend’s timeline rather than in a private message because I believe in transparancy. In an entirely separate situation I had a horrible experience recently with private messaging. I even asked the person to call me (I have a USA number) and this was refused. You say one wrong thing in a PM and you’ve blown it for good. I hate stupid arguments. If you say it publicly, you’ve got accountability.
Meanwhile, my friend contacted me and said to call me, that she in fact had no intentions of ending our relationship. We spoke for a while yesterday. We get along fine and there’s never been any problem between us. I’d say she ran into a bit of misfortune recently, the kind of bad luck that can happen to anyone. So she’s been busy with that.
So today I made the mistake of going on Facebook. I saw this on my friend’s timeline under what I wrote, written by a complete stranger:
“Friends with [name withheld], What a horrible thing to post a person’s time line!”
Yep, this person, who doesn’t even know me and has never spoken to me, drew attention to my post, that is, tagged all my friend’s friends and said that about me. I have never met this woman and I’m sure I never will.
Dang. Why did I go on Facebook? Why do I even bother? I go on for a few secs and already I get insulted.
I ain’t saying nothing to that friend of my friend. Nothing. You don’t argue with someone who says something that mean. I suppose my friend’s friends can think what they want. I’ve stopped caring.
We are human. We get along sometimes, and sometimes we don’t. We wander the earth and may meet others we particularly like. We call them friends.
Friendship is part of the human condition. It’s different from brothers and sisters, although we often here people speaking of a beloved sibling as a best friend. A spouse is also a friend. A spouse is your partner and if you are married you sign a legal marriage contract. Our friends aren’t bound by such documents. A parent is legally obligated to care for his or her children. That’s part of being a parent.
Why are you my friend? I hope you like me, and likewise, I like you. We enjoy being together. We agree on some things. It’s impossible to agree on everything.
You live in your body, and I live in mine. I cannot say what it feels like to be you. You cannot say what it feels like to be me. We learn to see each other’s viewpoints by listening, sharing, touching, or exchanging ideas.
I have been a sovereign human being since the moment I was given my name. You likewise. Children are born human and should be respected just as much as adults. They are not big enough to take on adult responsibilities. Yet a child can be a friend, is this not true?
Someday, you may decide you don’t like me anymore. Or you may decide you want to move on. I may make similar decisions. We aren’t obligated to stay together, because friendship isn’t a contract.
People do move on. It’s true. We are human and our lives aren’t static. We grow. We die.
If you decide to leave me, does it mean you aren’t my friend? Does it mean I should feel a sense of loss or despair? Should I blame myself?
I used to, but I don’t anymore. I am not so sentimental as to say either “It wasn’t meant to be,” or, “It’s not the time now.” I believe neither of these statements are true.
If your friend is part of your life now then you are blessed. If your friend was part of your past life, then you are blessed. You are rich with experience. You have shared. your paths have crossed and you may have walked together for a while. This is divine, especially in memory.
People come in and out of your life, and the truth is, most don’t stick around. No matter how hard you try, that ends up being a fact of life. People go out of your life for many reasons and much of the time it isn’t anything you did or said. They might move away, change jobs, or just get busy. Or you have nothing in common anymore. Wasn’t there a song by The Guess Who, something that said, “No time left for you, No time left for you, people change and so do I…you need not wonder why….” something like that? Everyone has a path they follow and your paths aren’t necessarily going to intersect. When they do, it’s beautiful.
Yesterday was half crappy and half rather decent. I was in a bad space when I woke up. I guess just tired of insults, bullying, and other insulting crap from people in USA. I was discouraged and exhausted. Also I was replaying the events of August 2013 in my mind. Sometimes, their faces, their voices, their actions are crystal clear to me as if these horrors are still ongoing.
But they are not. I am safe from this abuse now. I must remind myself of this. It’s only a memory now. Even a horrific memory cannot harm me, no matter how terrifying.
Still, I found myself asking, “Why did they do this?” Over and over. There are no answers to this. They saw me as SUBHUMAN. I won’t ever know why, though I often speculate.
Yeah, I was terribly thin. It was still me, inside that body that wasn’t much more than bones. Something inside was still thriving, a heart still beating. But they only saw a half-person. A worthless piece of shit they could kick around.
I’m awfully lucky to be alive.
Last night, I met up with my friend, my new friend here. I am immensely happy. How long has it been since I actually saw someone and spent time with them this way? It was so rare back in the USA. I recall anytime I saw anyone I would thank that person profusely. Afterward, I felt sad, figuring it would be another month at least before I’d be lucky enough to have meaningful human contact.
Most had no clue. They had spouses to go home to, roommates, kids, family, or employment. Or enough appointments with people that got paid to talk to them. They cherished their alone time. I cherish it, too. Privacy is essential to me. But no one had any conception of what I went through. I’m not shy or agoraphobic. I never understood why folks ran away from me as if I were a leper. I told myself if one more person turned their back or said “no” I’d go nuts. Then, one more person would do just that. I am lucky I am alive today.
Just seeing those turned backs…again and again…It was too much to bear. Even now, seeing this so clearly in my mind, I can feel inside me just how it felt then.
I am so happy I have a friend to hang out with. We are both very happy about it and are planning another get-together soon. Imagine that. Other folks take companionship for granted, but I sure don’t.
Is nothing solved? Is it endless and pointless altogether? I recall the reaction, or, rather, the things that filtered down to me after Rachel Klein’s death. I couldn’t believe what I heard, but it all makes sense now.
“She was always unhappy.”
“She was suicidal. This was inevitable.”
“We never even liked her. We didn’t want her around.”
I was shocked, but not so shocked. I knew people had said this about me, too, and they used it as justification for rejecting me and refusing to be friends with me. Thus, it was all an unending cycle of social rejection. They’d reject me, so I’d get more frustrated and unhappy, and this, in turn, people used as justification for staying away.
I used to ask myself what would happen if I died. I think I can answer that question just fine. People would say the same stupid shit about me that was said about Rachel.
The more I think about Rachel, the more sorry I feel. She was caught in a very bad loop.
I’m awfully glad I am not dead. I’m glad I got away, away from that dreaded cycle. What will happen now?
I’m settling down here, feeling more secure with my surroundings. I’m developing kind of a daily routine. I’m sleeping better and better at night, and feeling less exhausted during the day. Sometimes I dread something going horribly wrong, but so far, this hasn’t happened.
If anything gets screwy, I won’t hesitate to pack up and move in a flash. I know better than to try to fight nasty rumors, so should they develop, I’m outa here. It’s like a forest fire. Do you stay and try to beat the flames with a flyswatter, or do you run like mad?
I’m sure very few people even believe his, but it’s true. I started taking the drug Imipramine, in October 2011. It was prescribed to me. I had a rather bad drug reaction that went on and on even after I stopped the drug. I wasn’t aware of the change except in hindsight.
While all this was happening, I was meeting new people at the church I attended. It’s very sad that they had no clue of this drug reaction. I guess they figured I was always a bitch. So word got around. I never made friends there even though I’d say sometimes, “I’m not usually like this.” That never worked.
I’d show up on Sunday, and feel for that hour or two that I had friends. But during the rest of the week whenever I tried to contact someone outside of church, I found that what I had were “Sunday only” friends. I didn’t know why this was happening. I got more and more frustrated, and finally stopped showing up on Sundays. It was too depressing.
It took a long time for the effects of this drug to wear off. But “reputation” never wears off. People think what they want to think, whatever the popular opinion is. No one wanted to give me another chance.
I’m glad I relocated. I couldn’t shake “reputation’ and moving gave me the opportunity to start afresh. But what now? I cannot go on like this, feeling so much anger and resentment toward folks that aren’t even in my life anymore. It’s useless and stupid of me. What’s done is done. I blew it. I gotta move on. I can’t keep hanging onto people that never even liked me.
I don’t know why I’m so stuck in resentment. I’m here in a new community where people are friendly and kind, but all I can think about is the past and the hurtful things that people did to me.
I am sad. I realize now that I have been seriously affected by the loss of a friendship. It’s been about a month at least. I can’t seem to shake the sadness.
I asked myself over and over why this person dumped me. We had no argument nor friction between us. One day, she stopped calling. I tried calling her and she didn’t pick up nor return my calls. I tried e-mailing with no response. I knew at that point that something was up.
I know sometimes things happen. There might be a death in the family or she might have been in a car accident. So I waited. And waited.
Usually, when a person is truly a friend and I stop hearing from that person, I assume he or she is just busy. People get involved with their jobs or get caught up in various projects. Sometimes, there’s some family drama going on.
I waited. Finally, I re-opened my Facebook account and asked this person directly via Facebook. I didn’t do this in a private message, but out in the open on her page where anyone could see. I apologized saying that if I had said something offensive I was sorry.
I saw nothing on her page to indicate that anything was amiss. I was beginning to realize I’d been given the shaft. But I waited and sure enough, I got a response.
She said she had been isolating and hadn’t spoken to anyone, even her parents. Then she said in the next sentence that she was on her way out to get together with a friend. I told myself that this sure sounded contradictory.
I waited and waited. No calls from her, no e-mail, no contact whatsoever. Okay, I get the hint. I’ve been tossed aside. Like a child tosses out a toy she doesn’t want anymore.
Yeah, I’ve been mulling it over too much. But for a while, she was one of the few people that would speak to me at all. I had no conversation in my life. I think she knew this, cuz I told her.
This wasn’t her situation at all. She had other people in her life. She had her parents, her sibling, her sibling’s kids, her therapist, her various doctors, the multitude of obligatory appointments, and her other friends.
I think she must have latched onto me for the time that we were friends, just cuz I was there. Maybe she was lonely for a bit. But then, she started to make new friends. I truly believe they were influential over her. I believe they pressured her to stop being friends with me. Or maybe she told herself she had other friends now so she no longer needed me. Maybe she’s over that rough spot. I got tossed out.
We live in such a “junior high” world! What drama! It’s not even worth it. I feel like kicking myself for being so bummed out over this. I need to move on. That “caring” friend wasn’t so caring after all.
I guess some folks are just like that. They think of friendship rather casually. They toss people out on a whim. They don’t care how others feel. People like me don’t matter very much to them.
I should quit being bummed, but I can’t shake this. I’m human. I have feelings. I’m not perfect and sometimes it takes me a long time to get over stuff. There’s no “should” in this world. I’m grieving this loss and I suppose I shouldn’t beat myself up for taking as long as I need to.
See you later.
I hear stories from other people quite frequently, about how they joined an online community but were booted out. They were either kicked out and refused further access, or they faced so much social rejection that they made the decision to quit. The latter is, of course, covert means of kicking someone out. The effect is the same, though. The person is effectively no longer participating in the community.
I have seen this in “in person” communities as well. Some communities literally ask a person to leave or stop allowing the unwanted person entry to their meeting place. Perhaps the organization can pinpoint some trivial policy that the unwanted person has violated. Or new policy will be made to ensure that the unwanted is effectively kept out.
Oftentimes, though, the community doesn’t want to look bad, nor do they wish to appear unethical in any way. So they will make the person feel useless or unworthy. The person will be assigned tedious, boring tasks that require no skill. The person will never be given any responsibilities or meaningful duties. Thus, the community, or more likely, its higher-ups, effectively let this person know that he or she is not at all valued by them.
Another technique I have seen to effectively get rid of an unwanted member is to casually suggest that the member “take time off.” One or two members with good coercive skill will tell the unwanted just how badly she needs a rest, that perhaps she’s suffering too much under the burden of demands from the organization. There may, in fact, be no demands at all on the unwanted person, but this “feel good” method works quite well. The person leaves and is unlikely to complain, thinking she is being treated with respect and consideration. In truth, though, the community is rather glad she’s gone and are wiping their hands clean of the whole affair. What they have done isn’t respectful at all, but no one has to know.
In this recent incidence of my being booted out of an online community, a covert method was used. Not all members of the community participated. It was actually a minority as the community was large and in fact, I’d met very few of them in person. However, the offending members added up to enough of an overwhelming number that I made the decision to leave.
Everything was cool when I first joined. As it is usually for such communities. One problem I saw right away, and in fact, anticipated, was that there were very few people even close to my age in this community. Most were in their 20’s, many were teens, and a few were in their 30’s. I think there were a handful already into their 40’s, but very few. That meant I was old enough to be many members’ grandmother, since I am 56 years old. I felt awkward, of course, but made light of this. Most everyone was female in this community.
I felt quite good about it at first. Didn’t we have so, so much in common? Of course we did. I got chummy with some people and assumed I had new friends. I assumed these people even liked me. I had no reason not to believe this.
Keep in mind that people like me, who don’t have supportive family, put more emphasis on friendship than those that do have supportive family. Many people who are in stable marriages or who have regular contact with family members don’t really understand the need for friendship that a person like me often has. Perhaps, therefore, I tried to be a bit too chummy with people that simply didn’t give a damn.
Because I am older and more experienced, I have seen more than these kids have, simply by having been on the planet longer. As far as the common denominator went, I also had extensive experience with our common suffering that held us together. Therefore, I often found myself in a position of having to relate an experience of mine or viewpoint that perhaps no one there had yet considered.
I am not alone in my thinking. I have found plenty of other people who have seen what I have seen and who have similar opinions. Nothing about my own experience is exceptional or unusual in any way. However, this online community assumed that what I was saying was highly unusual, or even impossible. This, I suppose, was the first way they rejected me. I am not speaking of the community as a whole, but of a portion of this community. It was enough, though, to cause me discomfort. I tried to keep up the humor to smooth all this over.
Things progressed from there. Select members began to bully me. As many of you know, it’s best not to associate with people intent on bullying. It often took me far too long to come to my senses and realize that this person was going to be cruel no matter what I said or did. This is what bullies do.
I was called names. Some were quite nasty and rude. I tried to fend it off then realized it was best to cease communication with those particular individuals. In fact, other members who felt empathetic toward me (or had actually met me in person) advised me to cut contact. I did so.
I received the following rude comments. I am listing them in no particular order, and some are paraphrased.
“You are disgusting.”
“You are a disgrace and shouldn’t be in our community.”
“You have no clue what it’s like to have an eating disorder. You don’t know what we go through.”
“You are clearly against recovery.”
“You are bad for my recovery.”
“I fear you will cause me to relapse.”
“You are negative.”
“I know what you are saying is true, and in fact, rather insightful, but I don’t think we should have to hear it.”
“You must be paranoid.”
“You are a danger to our community.”
“You challenge us too much.”
There were many other similar remarks. I was tired of it, but put up with it for the sake of those who weren’t participating in the bullying. However, these remarks wore on me. This was bound to happen even though I knew what they were saying wasn’t true. I tried to focus on those members who seemed supportive. At first, there were many, but this number dwindled.
I had one good friend in this community. She was one of the few that I had actual spoken contact with. I have no clue what happened between the two of us, because there wasn’t any argument or friction between us. She’d initiate contact with me as much as I initiated contact with her. I thought she was a really good person. I still do.
As the number of supporters dwindled, and more and more members turned away from me, I noticed this one friend periodically dropped contact and I wouldn’t hear from her. I feared something had gone terribly wrong in her life. I’d re-establish contact and she’d tell me she’d been busy, or some account had been hacked.
This kept happening, though. After a while, I began to recognize excuse-making, even lies, though I didn’t want to jump to wrong conclusions. Sometimes, a person becomes caught up in things and they forget to let one or two friends know they are okay, just involved in other stuff. However, this kept repeating. I didn’t want to be a nag.
Finally, I thought of something. Maybe this person wanted me to give up trying to re-establish contact. I was getting tired of this person not answering when I called and not calling back after I’d left messages. I tried contacting by another means and the response I received didn’t hold water. What if I just stopped asking to reconnect? I decided to wait for this person. After all, if she was really my friend, and she wasn’t being dishonest, I’d hear from her shortly.
Nothing. No word. No apology nor explanation. Dropped out of sight. Silent treatment.
It saddened me that this person had been influenced by my reputation, that is, what others thought of me. I was heartbroken that this has occurred. What happened at this point was that I made the active decision to walk out. I have not participated in this online community since.
I feel terribly sorry for many of those folks that are truly struggling. It seemed pointless to reach out to them, because they’d made up their minds that I was a “dangerous” person to associate with. This, of course, was based on rumor and not fact. There were a number of these folks that I fully intend to stay in touch with, but not within the context of this online community.
I will never really know the origin of the rumors. At this point, it’s not even worth wondering about. I refuse to associate with people who insist on calling me nasty names. Also, I don’t want to associate with anyone who is pretending to like me, but deep inside, believes the rumors and actually thinks I’m nuts. Why associate with someone with whom I have no credibility? Essentially, what this person is doing is faking it and lying to me. Who wants fake friends? Fake relationships end up destructive, do they not?
I still do have friends, but I make sure that the folks with whom I associate are honest and sincere. I make sure they truly want to be friends. I realize that anyone may choose to change their mind. I also have that option. Friendship isn’t a legally bound agreement nor is there any obligation to stay friends forever. I believe that love and trust is what holds people together. Obligation alone won’t work. Friendships may wax and wane, as well. I try to keep an open mind and allow a person to grow and change. I sure want other folks to be open-minded about me as well.
I am happy to be out of this online community. It was stifling for me. I wonder if anyone from there is reading what I am writing right now. Maybe. I guess I have moved on.