Sunday, July 19, 2009

rough week in two parts

Hey all.

Sorry I have been absent for so long. It's been a rough week. And per usual, some of the rough stuff is a result of my own actions. Sigh.

Shitty week PART I

Back awhile, I posted here about a guy I know to be a child molester who belongs to a list serve that I am a member of. I had a lot of discomfort about him being there, but he'd done nothing to get himself thrown off, so there was nothing I could do.

Well, he got all arrogant and sniped at some people, so I called him on his hypocrisy. I told him out loud and in public on the list that his actions were a detriment to our effort to achieve marriage equality because no matter how much time we all spend saying we're not child molesters, people can point to this loser and say "but he is." I was a reporter in his town just before he was arrested and charged for molesting a kid under the age of 14. I remember seeing kids swarm around in his store and I remember thinking "that's not quite kosher." I was transferred to another area just before he was arrested and went to trial.

I was rough. I was nasty. I laid him out to whaleshit.

And frankly, I don't much care. The guy ran a comic book store. He was a textbook case in how predators behave, both before they are caught and after. He went to prison and is now listed on the state website for sex offenders. There was nothing I wrote that wasn't public record.

But I got blasted by the members of the list serve. I got blasted by my best friend, the one whom this guy had taken a verbal swipe at and whom I had sort of been defending. All of the people who defended this guy were men. Of the 30 or more people to weigh in on the subject, only a handful supported me. They were all women.

For years I have argued against the notion that all men are idiots. I know lots of men, I said, who are not assholes. Not all men stop thinking at the end of their dicks.

That's harder for me to say now.

Much harder.

I've had two, maybe three guys support me in this. The rest were outraged that I embarrased and ridiculed and verbally attacked this man.

The women on the list were more supportive, particularly those with kids. And a couple of social workers.

**** PART II of shitty week from hell ****

A couple weeks ago, we went down to the big city for gay pride and to do a small job for a friend. She needed some steps built on her rental property and I was glad to do it. The old ones were not to code, the railing was simply a piece of 1 by 6 plank laid up on edge, and the steps were too steep.

I tore down the old set, ripped out the rotted siding and replaced it with new plywood, found the cement footers and laid blocks on top of them to set the posts on, and built the steps. I installed some flashing to direct water away from the house so it wouldn't rot again. I explained each step to the owner as I did it, and worked around the rain that fell nearly steadily for the week. It was hot, muggy work, but the steps looked fabulous and the owner was pleased. When I presented the bill, she complained that it was too high. I offered to reduce it to the original quoted amount, but she said no and wrote a check for the full amount. A few days later she complained about the travel charge, and I offered to refund that portion in order to keep her satisfied. It is important to me that people are pleased with my work and not left feeling treated poorly. Again she refused my offer of a refund. Everything seemed OK.

Until I got a letter last week. She wasn't pleased after all. She didn't like the price. She didn't like the work I did, she didn't like the blocks, the flashing, or the railing posts. She had another contractor look at my work, make a detailed list of all my sins, and presented them to me. She demanded a re-do of the work or a refund, to be satisfied within 30 days. If I do not make good on the demand, she would take me to court to get it.

Twice in the letter she said that she valued our friendship (of some 20 years now) and did not want to damage it.

I got this letter about a half-hour after I got the note on that list serve from my best friend saying I was an asshole and needed to apologize to the pedophile and everyone on the list for outing him.

Like I said, it was a pretty awful day. So awful was it that I did something I have never done as an adult: I went back to bed and sobbed for three hours.

No shit.

Because I am such the kind of person who spends countless hours sobbing into my pillow. My guess is that if you've read this space for more than one or two entries, I wont have to explain that I was just being sarcastic. Yeah. Sob in my pillow? Not since my last horrid break-up, I think. Only this was worse. This was a 20-year friendship circling the drain.

I cannot remember a time when I felt so low. So hurt. So betrayed. So completely abandoned. If felt as though I had been kicked in the gut by a horse. Twice. I had no idea what to do. My stomach hurt, my heart hurt, my head was spinning, and nothing I looked at seemed to make any sense.

Eventually I got up and went and did a little job for some friends. They liked it and paid without complaint. I cannot tell you what a relief that was. To have something work. To have a customer be pleased.

I've had displeased customers over the years. I've even had them ask me to fix something I did that was not to their liking, and I have done it. But I have never had anyone hire someone else to critique my work and then threaten to sue. That was a new and terrible experience for me.

I was completely out of sorts.

I quit the list-serve. I have no interest in participating in a group that will defend and protect a child molester.

I spent a week trying to figure out how to respond to my friend who values my friendship but might sue me if I don't give her back the equivalent of one month's rent and groceries and gasoline. Like I've got that kind of cash hanging around in the bank or under my mattress, right? Yeah. Not so much.

After a week, I was able to respond. I wrote a reply in which I acknowledged and owned the errors that were mine, but handed back the rest. I reminded her that she had approved every step of the way the items that now she has issues with, and I'm going to send a check first thing Monday morning. I haven't got that kind of money, but I'll find it by then. I don't want to be taken to court. I don't want to deal with this ever again. If a thousand dollars will make my stomach stop aching like it has been, it's worth it. I never knew the cost of a friendship. Apparently, now I do. It's a thousand dollars.

I'm still pretty stunned by it all. Yes, I screwed some stuff up. No job is perfect. Each has its mistakes, and each has its lessons.

I shuffled through the week in a haze of hurt, self-doubt and grief. I questioned my every decision. I doubted my every move and every thought. Is this right? Do I really know? What if I screw it up? I don't want to lose any more friends. Maybe this was karma for outing the pedophile. That seems kind of unfair, but that stuff happens sometimes. It was pretty awful.

Friends have offered all kinds of hypotheses as to how and why this happened, but I don't know that any of them fit. Nothing seems to make any sense. We were friends, allies, confidants, partners in efforts both political and personal, sounding boards upon which the other could rely for real truths when others would be polite. It's all gone now, and I am left with a feeling of grief at the loss of something so huge.

I think I need to maybe get back to writing here. I have done some reading of old posts lately, and can see a time when my thoughts seemed to be clearer, when things were more orderly in my brain. I don't make any promises, but I think I will try. It does me good to write, to get my thoughts and feelings out in public where I can see them by the light of day.

Thanks for bearing with me as I churn through this stuff. It is uncomfortable for me. I can only imagine it is less than riveting for you all. Stay tuned. I think it will get better.


Robin said...

I'm distracted by small cross-dressing children playing loud games so rather than throw out a few platitudes I'll just say for now that that sucks, a lot, and I'm sorry that the universe crapped on you, and that those who you thought to be your friends proved themselves unworthy.

As for the pedophile, there is nothing lower.

I do suspect though that if there were more fathers on your listserve that you'd have had more support from the men as well. As a parent, you can't help but personalize something like this, and feel the horror as a direct punch in the gut no matter whose child it happens to. Of course those who aren't parents can, should and usually are equally horrified, but I do think as a parent it gets you on a more visceral level.

Hang in there kiddo, you're better than them, and don't you forget it.

Middle Aged Woman said...

I'm pretty sure the karma for outing a pedophile is winning the lottery, so hang in there, chickie. Next time, don't wait so long to write, so we can give you a little love.

Tien said...

The whole thing sucks. I have to admit, I noticed the gender difference too. I'm not proud of that. I've been posting less and less lately. After that I've posted a few times in order to try to change the subject, but honestly, I don't have enough time just now to rail against all that crap. It's not worth it. Their minds are made up. You don't have the time either, not really. I'm sorry it's all coming down on you.

Maybe we can share some suppers this month--it'll probably help money wise for all of us. We only have the kid on the weekends until school starts, so it's just us two most of the time. Let us know.

mrs beadsley said...

Dawn-I've followed your writing both here and on the listserve - with a lot of enjoyment and admiration for the way you put words together, but also for the honesty and directness you employ, always. I missed your initial message (missed a LOT of messages due to an illness and death in the family)but cannot imagine you posted without lots of careful consideration. To me, your integrity will never be in question.
As for the other, I am so sorry that you had that happen - it sucks to have the rug pulled out from under you - even for a tiny moment!
Bright spot for me - you have vowed to write more in your blog - reading it is time well spent for me! Keep the posts coming!

Queenie said...

I was the reporter that was there when the pedophile was arrested, forced to give up his seat on the town council and sent to jail. He did have a comic book store and computer game outlet - a natural magnet. And he took one of the sweet pre-teens that hung out there, he took that child swimming and molested him.
What don't the people on that listserve understand?
A GROWN MAN molested an INNOCENT CHILD. And he deserves to pay for it for the rest of his life. You know that child is still paying...
As for the construction job, I sure hope when you send the check tomorrow you include a little note saying that you expect the stairs to be shipped to you immediately, overnight delivery. You don't get what you don't pay for, after all.
Take a deep breath and know there are lots of us out here that love you and yes, yes, yes, write more.

Anonymous said...

Well. Shit.
Not much more I can add than that. I'm sorry. I wish it wasn't this way. I think the pedophile will get his in the end (and I'm sure you know which end I hope) and your "friend"...well, that's not much of a friendship. I'm sorry she's acting this way and that you literally had to pay the price. I know that hit you where it truly hurts.

msladydeborah said...

Hi Dawn,

It sounds like you've been going through it.

Lessons come into our lives in all different types of ways. Sometimes they feel good and other times they are the friction that we need to grow in different ways.

Not everyone has courage of convictions to make a stance and stick to it. I applaude you for standing your ground and doing what you believed to be the right thing. If you do not feel that an apology is due in regards to the list serve-then do not do so.

Sometimes it does not pay to do work for people who are friends. It seems that you value your friendship enough to make what is wrong-right. Hopefully your friend will be satisfied.

Hang in there Dawn, this is just a phase that you're going through. Everybody has difficult times in their lives. Listen to some more Joan and chill out!

Leo MacCool said...

well, damn. you ignore the blogosphere for a couple of weeks and all hell breaks loose. i'm sorry for all this crap in your life right now. i don't think it's karma! hang in there--i think you're due for a patch of good things to balance all this nonsense. which is, ultimately, other people's nonsense, landing in your lap for no good reason.

Swamp Willow said...

As someone whose stepsons were molested by their stepfather (a registered sex offender whom the mother to this day still supports), let me say 'thank you' for standing up against that evil. I'm sorry it caused you grief and having to step down. It takes people like you to help put a stop to that evil.

Thank you, again.