|by Pieter Lanser from The Netherlands [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons|
For the most part I stay away from Facebook, signing in at most once a month. I stepped back from most social media sometime during the summer after the epiphanic realization that it's all manufactured drama, exaggerated happiness (a.k.a. lies), and kitten pictures. Can you guess which of those things I actually care about?
Anyway, this Facebook group was started by one of my very best friends as a way to pull together all her witchy friends. As you can probably guess by the adjective I just used, the group is vaguely New Age. Most of us follow different spiritual paths, but there's a lot of metaphysics thrown around in there. It's actually rather refreshing. Very little drama and a lot of good thoughts and pretty pictures. Plus, we're all women and all of an age, so many of us have gone through or are going through the same sorts of things. It's a good place to go for a bit of support. And that was the intent.
Now, again, it's been weeks and weeks since I even signed on to Facebook, and probably months since I've contributed to the group, but two days ago my friend who started this group messaged me wanting to know if I'd seen the latest thread in the group. I hadn't, but decided to go check it out. It seems that our newest member had left a post asking for book recommendations pertaining to magic and witchcraft and where to begin. A few other members of our group answered, and then someone decided to start lecturing.
Not just lecturing. More like a roundabout, rambling way to tell us that we're wrong and ignorant and not as, I don't know, enlightened as she is or something. I don't know. This woman, that's kind of the way she is. Well, that's totally the way she is. I've known her for years and have always found her to be almost unbearably abrasive. She's certainly very intense. I like her well enough when she forgets that she's supposed to be so much better than everyone, but for the most part I've observed that no matter what–it could be your birthday, your baby shower, whatever–she always finds a way to dig at the people around her.
She's like the witchy-fucking-hipster: she only into the really exclusive schools of spirituality, and works only with the very best teachers, and "Oh, you like that school of though? Yeah, I was into that for a while, like 20 years ago, when I didn't know any better," and the like. She's argumentative and abrasive, and completely unable to listen to or empathize with other people.
I generally don't interact with her because of this. It's easier, and given half a chance she'll drag you into her drama.
Now, you'd probably think, reading this blog where I spew all my insanity into the great void of the interwebs, that I thrive on drama. I don't, not really. It exhausts me. I have a tendency to panic and shut down. I can deal with emergencies, but that's different than drama. An emergency has a limited shelf life, drama can go on forever. That's actually a nightmare of mine.
Anyway, I gave my recommendations (books, authors, websites) to the new baby witch and let it go, but I kept an eye on the thread. What can I say? I was looking to be entertained, and drama can be entertaining if you're not caught in the middle of it.
Then this woman started–well, it seemed to me–attacking my friend with more lecturing and what seemed to be really disingenuous questions. I've seen her do this shit before: badgering the other person into submission, getting a token "well, I don't know as much as you" comment, and the like. Hell, she's done it to me before. And it's so irritating, and I just couldn't sit there and watch it happen yet again.
Since I met this woman–over a decade ago now–I could count on one hand with fingers left over the number of conversations that either we've had, I've witnessed in person, or read online that she's had with people that have not followed the pattern of:
person: I think this.Seriously.
woman: You're wrong. [Launches into a long screed about why they're wrong, all while misinterrpretting what person said]
person: No, that's not what I said. I meant [rephrases their point to clarify]
woman: [Continues screed about person's wrongness. Throws in some references to some famous spiritual teacher that woman claims to have studied with for years]
person: But, that's not—
woman: [Continues screed, references some esoteric knowledge to back her claim, then tops off with pseudo-eastern thought that has nothing really to do with the subject person was talking about]
woman: [Continues screed, throws in terms "unenlightened" & "where you are on your soul's evolutionary journey"]
person: Whoa, um, I don't think I said what you thought I said. And you're being kind of harsh.
woman: [Continues screed, knows she's being mean because she says things like, "I'm perfectly reasonable" (meaning the person is overreacting to her obvious abuse), and "This is just the way that I interact with people," and "I don't candy coat my words for anyone, that's not how Wild Women grow" (an excuse to be mean), and "You need to learn to interact with people from a nonreactive space" (meaning you shouldn't try to stand up for yourself," etc.]
person: You're right. I'm sorry.
But here's the thing: the woman is smart and knowledgeable, and when she's not acting like an utter bitch she can be fun to interact with. She can be someone that you can learn something new from, and I always find that fun, but she doesn't know how to people, you know? Usually I have more patience, or I don't even bother interacting with her because I know how she is, and I have some insight into why she is that way. She's had an extraordinarily shitty life, especially her early life. I think she legitimately doesn't know how to people. She's overcome a lot and her life has gotten a lot better, but she doesn't really have the foundation that most other people have. The story of her childhood, teens, and a good chunk of her twenties is one of the worst I've ever heard, and I've heard some bad stories. It wasn't Dave Pelzer, but it wasn't that far off. So usually I just ignore her because I can't deal with her and the abuse she deals out.
And I don't know, maybe because I'm dealing with my own separate issues right now, maybe because I'm just so sick of having to jump over the missing stair that is this woman in our group, but for whatever reason I just couldn't ignore her. Not this time.
So I did what I never do: I engaged. I stuck up for my friend, so I'm proud of that, but I fought as dirty as the woman does. I met her condescension with condescension and topped it. She pulled her esoteric references, so I pulled my own and added a bit common knowledge. I told her that I was only speaking because I felt like she was attacking my friend. I apologized, but in a way that made it clear that I understood entirely what she was doing. I reminded her without flat out saying it that I am as smart as she is and probably more well read. When she pulled the "I hope you can let go of your irritation." I let her know that I felt the whole conversation was irritating, and I that I knew she was going to try to continue it anyway. Then I disengaged because I knew that that would drive her crazy, not having the last word, and not being able to impart her "wisdom" to me.
It took about four comments to shut her down. Now I feel psychically dirty, and I'm not sure it was worth it. Because I'm good at this sort of thing, working words, drawing blood without a knife. Especially when I'm writing. Talking in person is a whole other game, I've a tendency to go awkward there. But writing? Yeah, I'm good at it. I read people well, and know words, and when I have a chance to think in an argument I know I can be devastating.
I don't like doing it. Though I usually don't, I can throw my intellectual weight around with the best of them, but it makes me feel like a bully. Plus, I don't really like arguing. I try my best to avoid in-person arguments like the plague. Seriously, I once had to lie down while arguing with an ex-boyfriend because I got so shaky that I couldn't stand up any longer. Literally, my legs wouldn't hold me. I just laid on the floor while he continued his argument. We broke up shortly after. Off topic.
The woman quit our group. I have mixed feelings about that because of her past and her issues, yes, but also because I had a part of driving her away. No one deserves to be bullied, not even bullies themselves. So this isn't really a satisfactory end, (not that this is really the end, I believe she'll be back in a few months like she just took a vacation or something) but I don't know what a satisfactory end would be. Well, that's not exactly true. It'd be nice if she stopped tearing us down to stir up drama and, I don't know, feel better about herself or something. It'd be nice if she learned how to people, then we could happily people together.
And I think I need to work on my patience.