Monday, April 2, 2012

Adulthood - do I have unreasonable expectations about this?

I realize that by writing this post I am, in a sense, doing precisely what I'm about to rail against. However, these issues continue to swirl around in my mind and I've got to find a way to let it out. I've got far more important things to think about than immature drama. I'll be using real initials of real people, so I'm certain I'll get some backlash, but as some of those involved refuse to stop the drama anyway, I don't guess it'll make any difference.

If you don't have time to read the whole blog, here's the gist of it: 

  • We are all (supposedly) adults. If you don't want to approve a friend request, just click "no thanks". Don't be childish and ask someone else to deliver the news for you. That's cowardly, it pulls others into drama you created the moment you asked someone else to do the talking for you (which is a shitty thing to do to a friend), and it's just plain stupid.
  • An ADULT alternative to this sort of drama is to speak for yourself. If you're not the confrontational sort, just a simple "sorry, but I can't" will suffice. If you are more mature and have an issue with someone, the ADULT thing to do is speak directly to that someone and say "here is the problem as I see it". Yes, that can be an intimidating, hard thing to do, but it speaks VOLUMES about your sincerity and your maturity.

I guess I'm just naive, but I truly thought (at 41 freaking years old) I'd left the elementary school drama far behind. You know, the whole "I'm not talking to Jane, so can you tell Jane I said ___?" thing, rather than just speaking for yourself and not dragging others through a bunch of self-made b.s.? Unfortunately, I was very wrong.

First, here's some back-story about one of these recent drama incidents:

Recently a woman I've known for many years, C.H., created a group on Facebook with (it appeared initially) the best of intentions. In this group, she stated, she wanted to create a safe place for a small number of women to express themselves in an authentic manner. In this group, she proclaimed that she wanted to learn how to sit quietly with her feelings, to learn how to address some of the issues that continued to crop up in her life, and to allow the other members she hand-picked to do the same. In essence, it appeared she created this place as a way for her to improve her life as well as to offer a place where others could learn and grow.

Having known her for so long - having, in fact, even worked with her in a sense - I immediately had a feeling of hoping for the best but expecting the worst. While she is a woman who has been through many hardships and survived them, she is also (in my opinion) a woman who is very ill. Given my personal experiences and education on the subject, it is my strong belief that she has untreated ultra-rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.

Initially, things started out well. This small group of women got to know each other a bit better and new friendships were formed. Soon, however, drama started cropping up, and most of it had C.H. at its center. She would post about some pretty erratic behaviors, then become upset if other members didn't respond with support for her inappropriate behaviors or didn't respond at all. Some days, she absolutely flooded the group with post after post, creating new ones when she didn't get the responses she wanted.

C.H. has a history of deleting her Facebook profile, and so I and a another mutual friend (J.B.) tried to gently but firmly remind her that if she deleted her account, the group and all of the connections and wonderful discussions would vanish. C.H. also has a history of deleting comments or entire posts, thereby attempting to "rewrite history". Both J.B. and I began sending out friend requests to all of the members of the group, preparing ourselves for C.H.'s inevitable deterioration.

Things quickly went downhill. Dealing with C.H. became the source of ongoing drama. Some women limited their postings to cute photos or uplifting quotes, but stopped sharing much of their "real selves". Others (myself included) tried in vain to be peacemakers or simply walked around on eggshells. This push-pull emotional roller coaster began to feel like abuse. There would be a day or two when C.H. was kind, thoughtful, and open. Then, something would "set her off" and the group watched as she would bring up old hurts, state that apologies made for any upset wasn't the "right" apology, and otherwise take everyone on a bumpy ride through Anger Town. I can't speak for the others, but as for me, I cried almost daily thanks to the building drama. I ruminated about what I could have said differently, about what ways I could have eased tensions. I felt like an emotionally battered woman, trying to figure out what I'd done to get punched so I could try to avoid getting punched again.

A couple of weeks ago, things came to a head. C.H. had, once again, been just - and I'm sorry for the expression, but it fits - off her freaking rocker. I couldn't take it any longer. My friend J.B. called me and couldn't even understand me through the sobs and gasps for air - she'd caught me in the middle of a building panic attack. I was in the process of writing a post indicating that as much as I had come to like some of the members there, the drama was having an incredibly negative impact on me and I wanted to let them know that while I'd enjoy remaining Facebook friends I could no longer remain in such a volatile group.

J.B. is my best friend, and she is a pit bull, mama bear type when someone she loves has been hurt. C.H. had been picking, picking, picking for WEEKS, holding J.B. up as a villain. J.B. has a long fuse, but hearing the pain in my voice was the last straw in a metric ton of emotional straws. She went, in basic terms, batshit crazy on C.H. She finally called C.H. out on a lot of her issues. I was having a yard sale that weekend, attempting to make a little money and get rid of some things, so I missed out on the whole back and forth between J.B. and C.H.

I logged back in later that Sunday evening to formally remove myself from the group as I'd stated I'd be doing. The first thing I saw was that I'd been made an administrator of the group! So was J.B.

C.H. had removed herself from the group. Um...what!?!

I started reading through things and catching up on the latest drama. J.B. was already apologizing to the group for losing it, and there were a few women who let her know that they understood that she'd been pushed and pushed and pushed by C.H. and were kind of amazed it took as long as it did for her to fight back.

Still with me? AMAZING! Okay, so we're pretty much caught up with the back story.

Naturally, after this roller coaster, some people removed themselves from the group. Some stayed but remained quiet. Then came the behind-the-scenes, note-passing, childish bull that drives me nuts.

One of the former members both J.B. and I had sent a friend request to (we'd both found her to be intelligent, interesting, and one who'd tried to combat the drama with uplifting posts), had told C.H. she didn't want to approve our friend requests, and had C.H. relay the message to J.B. and I through a mutual friend. So this woman, L., couldn't just click "no"? She had to do the "I'm not talking to her, so YOU tell her blah blah blah" thing?

One of the women who'd stayed with the group but had remained silent apparently started "reporting" on the goings on in the group to C.H. Now, this group was supposed to be a safe, PRIVATE, space - and people were passing along information to a non-member? Not! Cool!

During all of this, C.H. was having second thoughts about handing over the group, and started letting us know (through the same mutual friend) that we'd "hijacked" it, that we'd "stolen" the group from her. She continued to make requests/demands (remove certain posts, give the group back to her, etc.).

Here's the thing. If you and I have a problem, just talk to me. I recently had a really difficult discussion with a good friend of mine. She said some things that were hard and uncomfortable to say, and that were hard to hear. Yet she had the maturity, and the kindness, to express her thoughts and feelings to me directly in as kind and gentle a way as she could manage. It would've been SO EASY for her to just slide it under the rug, or avoid me, or have someone else tell me what she wanted to say. But instead, this friend made the effort to carve out some time so we could sit together privately, and she talked with me directly. It was hard - for both of us - but I respect and appreciate the fact that she conducted herself as a mature adult, and it makes me respect her all the more for the efforts she made.

Back to the C.H. drama. I've done my best to maintain myself with her. I've wished her nothing but wellness and good. I wasn't even online during the big showdown between C.H. and J.B. I've made myself available to her - she knows how to contact me via email and phone. But because when she asked me why I hadn't responded to her post about her very inappropriate, unhealthy behavior, I honestly stated that I didn't know what to say because I didn't agree with her actions, I'm now an enemy. I truly hope C.H. gets evaluated for ultra-rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, but she has gotten VERY angry whenever that's been suggested.

I only expect adults to either be direct, or to just remain silent if they are afraid of confrontation. What makes me angry is when other people are put in the unenviable situation of being dragged into the middle of something that need not involve them.

Let's break this down into really simple terms by using "dos and don'ts" examples:

I've sent you a friend request on Facebook and you don't want to be my friend.
     DO click on the "no thanks" button
     DO, if you have a problem with my request and want me to know that, speak with me directly.
     DO NOT contact a mutual friend and make them be stuck in the middle as the messenger.
I've sent you an invitation on Facebook to join a group, and you are not interested in joining.
     DO click on the "no thanks" button
     DO, if you have a problem with being invited and want me to know that, speak with me directly.
     DO NOT contact a mutual friend and drag them into the middle by making them your messenger.

How hard is this concept to grasp? I mean, really? How old are we again? My 11 year old knows better, for crying out loud.

I've got PLENTY of drama in my life that I need to focus on, including little things like:
  • my children struggling in school academically or socially/emotionally
  • my family dealing with losing the only home my son has ever known and the only one my daughter truly knows
  • my family not knowing where, or even being able to look for until this house sells, we will "land"
  • my family dealing with the massive medical bills that have been incurred over the last 2 1/2 years
  • my health challenges that include (but aren't limited to) constant pain, memory problems, and enough medications to call breakfast on their own
  • my husband's recently being the victim of a sleeping driver wrecking his car (and totaling hers - it's a miracle she's okay)
  • my daily struggle against worsening depression
So please, alleged "adults", just STOP with the freaking drama already. In other words, can we all please just grow the hell up?


  1. I actually read this all the way through. lol Good thing I did too, because just reading the "abridged" version, I would likely have posted something about "Well, we can't dictate our expectations to others, even if we consider them childish.". As such, reading the FULL version was advantageous because it allowed me to fully comprehend the situation behind the stated issue, and I find myself agreeing with you on all counts. Still, the old adage is true... you can't please everyone. I feel sorry for CH in her illness... I know someone whose wife has severe problems (that I can't go into, of course) and her behavior is sometimes, to borrow from Mike Warnke, "Grade A Class #1, government inspected fruitcake" material. And it's not easy for either of them because she doesn't realize she's being irrational and unreasonable... in her head everything she does and says makes perfect sense to her. So I CAN sympathize with CH. However, in the real world of course, that behavior DOESN'T make sense to anyone else and is unacceptable. Sometimes you just have to be honest and blunt, hurt feelings or not. In my opinion, especially with the one member who is going behind everyone's back and spying and "reporting" to CH. Not cool.

  2. Thanks for reading it all the way through, Scanner.

    The sad thing is, on some level C.H. does recognize that she has some unhealthy patterns that keep repeating themselves in her life, and at the beginning had asked for honesty in everyone else's feedback. Both J.B. and I, with our backgrounds in helping and advising others for over a decade, took her at her word. While we strove to be gentle, we also both endeavored to be firm and to be as truthful as we could in the kindest ways possible. Sadly, C.H. wasn't as ready to make changes in her life as she seems to genuinely thought originally.

    C.H. isn't a bad person. She is smart, talented, and has many wonderful qualities. Sadly, her untreated (or poorly treated) mental health status is keeping her in an unhealthy holding pattern of "pull close, push away". It makes me sad, but at the same time I just can't fix her, and I can't subject myself to being abused.

  3. My gawd. i knewyou were under alot of pressure, but never realized jusr how bad it was. i cant speakto the biplar issue, but I've been in the trenches fighting depression myself and that sucks hard. I work 3rd shift and sometimes the exhaustipn will dump me into a funk that is pretty bad. to the pointthat i've nearly closed my facebook account several times now and very nearly did the same with what social life I do have. the last time thru was the worst and if not for a good friend all but making me get outta the house for some human contact I would have this time. never been suicidal cause its not that kind of depression, but i can say that alone I wouldnt have been able to get thru it this last time. keep your friends close at times like this and anyone dragging you down needs to be shown the door cause you have more than enough to deal with. sorry for all typos. the touch keyboard on my Android justtotally sucks.

    1. Thanks, AdmiralCain. Yeah, the thing is I HATE asking for help - it always seems to open me up for getting hurt or somehow just comes out wrong. As much as I share, I still try to hold a lot back. I'm always afraid...I don't even know what I was about to say there. Afraid of what? I don't know. Rejection? Confirmation that I can't rely on anyone or anything?
      Hmmm, food for thought.


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