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.
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.
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.