women to women: a puzzle for the ages

Godey-april-1861As I begin this post it has no real form yet.  A quasi flowing stream of consciousness. I figure by the end of the post the title will find me.

I have written many times before about my transition from being a Main Liner to a Chester County gal. And I am going to do it again. So if you don’t want to hear anymore about this or don’t like a flowing stream of consciousness, turn away from the blog now and visit again tomorrow.

Yesterday my friend Alene wrote about in essence adolescence and David Bowie.  She was part of a group of girls I was and am to this day still friends with.  Our 13 and 14 year old selves were quite different from a lot of our classmates at the time. And wow what we were subjected to from a pack of mean girls before they called them mean girls.

godeycovers-featured-270x290I have written about those girls from back in the day before.  And middle age hasn’t changed or softened a lot of them, and at the end of the day they are still just stuck in the 7th grade hallways with their tight jeans, bad perms and crimping irons…sneaking cigarettes and oh yes stumbling in their Candies.

We  (Alene and I) had a bit of a conversation about what she had written on her blog and in part she said

It’s interesting to me that you got a chance to witness what became of those people, whom I have long since forgotten.” I haven’t forgotten how it felt, though. It is sad. Now people talk openly about bullying behavior in the schools and the psychological effects on kids, but it seems to be universal and timeless.”

I had told her that on some level I felt sorry for these people. I actually do.

american-womens-fashion-1864-11-Nov-1024x683

These girls affected all of us in different ways but a similarity my friends and I share to this day is those silly girls made us realize what we don’t want in friends. For years after it also affected how I trusted or accepted people, which translated more simply is in a lot of cases I didn’t trust, I didn’t accept.

I worked to change that.  Sometimes I still work at it.

Take my moving to Chester County.  Moving and starting a new life no matter how exciting is very different when you’re an adult and middle-aged woman versus young and single. And this move in particular made me feel once again like that uncertain 12 year old who was thrust into a new and rather large school and area without much in the way of life skills to make the transition easy.

Maybe that sounds silly, but when I first moved to Chester County it is how I felt. Excited to be here yet so uncertain.

I have been lucky with this move that over the first years here I have discovered that many people I was friends with for years and years live not too far from me, and I have met a lot of really nice and genuine an amazing new people.14583203070_afc32dff39_o

But (there is always a but isn’t there?)….some people you take a chance on are just fated to disappoint.  And I have met some disappointing individuals.  Not too many, but a few.

No matter what age you are, you will always meet people who will just be uncomfortable because they can’t fit you into one of their boxes of pre-conceived notions.

But today I was faced with a situation that I not only did not know where to go with but definitely at first hurt then ultimately offended me.  Not disappointed.  Disappointed would have been on the short list of emotions when I was 12 but not now. I was emphatically offended.

Someone I had met over the last year basically told me today we couldn’t be friends because I was…wait for it….a blogger.

Initially I had reached out to her after we met as many of us do today, via social media. Right or wrong it is how we do a lot of our modern connecting. (Maybe we should bring back the calling card?)  But anyway.. I never got anything back. So I wondered if I had said or done something. I wasn’t sure what because this isn’t someone I run into (for example) every time I go to the grocery store. So I sent her a note. And what I got back basically made me just sort of sit back momentarily stunned:

 

Sorry if I offended you. Not my intention. But when I thought about giving a blogger access to my “personal” life, I got concerned…..I thought we got along well, as a public “voice,” you are in a different category.

 

O.k. so right now a certain group of equally disappointing “grown ups” some of whom reside in West Vincent are cheering at this post. Why? Because I have never been a human being to them, just a target to attempt to pummel into the ground. (But I digress.)

1206204introI do not think this woman intended to be deliberately hurtful. But there is no accounting for the accidental ignorance in human beings, especially women.  It was hurtful but mostly it was simply outrageously offensive to hear. I had thought I had made an initial friend connection with this person. But apparently I merely (I guess) had a use for a brief period of time?

But to say essentially you can’t be friends with me because I write?  Wow so very Puritan New England. Is being a blogger like wearing a proverbial scarlet letter or being branded a witch?

I have blogged for I would say about 15 years at this point.  When I first started my blogging was 100% based in political activism. That was deliberate. I had discovered I had a few opinions on politics and things like eminent domain for private gain.

So 15 years ago I would have said o.k. I can understand the fear of knowing a blogger because well blogging was new. But today, in 2016? It’s more like who doesn’t have a blog or online journal?  Lordy people there is even a Friendship Blog  – seriously – it is written by a published off the Internet PhD named Irene S. Levine about friendships. The author welcomes you to her site thusly:

Friendships are among the most complex but meaningful relationships in our lives. These unique bonds often run deeper than family ties, and sometimes last longer than our relationships with spouses or lovers. Yet there are few agreed-upon ground rules or roadmaps…..Dramatic changes in the ways women live, work and communicate have made navigating the terrain of female friendships even more daunting. This website aims to help readers navigate the awkward misunderstandings and disappointments—as well as the long silences and distance—that often crops up among friends.

I read this website once in a while because it’s interesting and not sugary sweetly and fakely cloying.

I was surfing the site just now looking for pearls of wisdom about making new friends after a certain age and I found this post on this site by a blogger (shock and horrors) named Cathy Chester who writes on her own site called “An Empowered Spirit” :

First-Person: Friendship lessons after 50

……Friendships have always been an important part of my life. I tend to them like a cat to her kittens, nurturing each one as best as I can….

Over the years I’ve tried to learn the difference between friends and acquaintances. I’ve been bruised a few times because I’m sensitive and sentimental, and always try to see the best in people.

During adolescence everyone experiences disappointment of one kind or another. When you are an adult, does this continue to happen?

The difference between friends and acquaintances is this: Friends stand by you through good times and bad. Acquaintances keep you at an arms length, remaining casually friendly at a safe distance.

In my fifties, I am trying to better understand human nature, to learn more about people and why they act and behave the way they do….We all think friendships get easier during midlife, and in some ways they do. We are more self-assured, and less likely to tolerate bad behavior. Yet in other ways we are striving to find ourselves….

There may be people you meet and there’s an instant connection. You form a close bond, and if you’re lucky it lasts a lifetime. Hold on tight; this is worth nurturing.

Tend to them. It’s worth the effort.

There are those you meet for a time and, when life moves on, so do they….

It’s time to let go and move on.

There are those you meet, and for some unknown reason they never feel a connection to you……The situation will never change.

Move on. It was never meant to be….

I am no authority on friendship. I am not a relationship expert, nor am I perfect in any way. But I know what I know from years of trying to be all things to all people as a child. As an adult, and after many disappointments, I’ve become more protective of my heart. And I’ve become truer to myself.

I love my friends, I’ve let go of past ones, and I thoroughly enjoy my new ones.

 

O.k. wow. Talk about someone just sort of reaching me where I am feeling today. I am going to pay more attention to An Empowered Spirit and Cathy Chester.

It’s funny but when this crap happens in life, you feel like you are experiencing it all alone.  But thanks to my actual friends and other bloggers in my age group no less I can put this into perspective. And jettison what happened to the invisible list  yet lengthy list of life experience.godey9-1861

But the whole thing about you can’t be friends with a blogger? What is that about? Blogging is something I do, it has never defined who I am. It’s a creative outlet for my voice, my writing, my photography.

And somehow I don’t think that is a bad thing. For the most part, I am happy to walk at the beat of my own drummer.  Now sometimes I doubt all that and wish I could be more like a lot of women my age.  Until I don’t.  Today was one of those times.  I realized the…well limitations of being limited in perspective.

Am I angry? No, but offended, yes.  It will pass and writing about it helps it dissipate in a game of mental catch and release.

In an era when women are corporate leaders and heads of state what does it do to the sisterhood metaphorically when you tell someone you really can’t be friends with them because they are a blogger? Oy vey.   I guess to some blogging is like a communicable disease. That is kind of funny if you think about it. Or sad.

Oh well!

Live and learn and let go. (And my post title just came to me as I predicted it would!)

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Been down one time
Been down two times
I’m never going back again

You don’t know what it means to win
Come down and see me again

~ Fleetwood Mac

 

P.S. If you want to read a really funny blog post  check out  What Not to Wear After Age 50: The Final Say by Michelle Combs.

Godey-1880

 

 

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9 thoughts on “women to women: a puzzle for the ages

  1. Good read Carla. I think that some people consider a blogger to be in the same category as a ‘gossip’. There is no match inherently…yet I think she may think they are one and the same thing. I find you to be brave and inspiring and inspiriting…I like the way you write and I find my day enhanced by your blogging. Thank you. I lived in Chester County for many years and the opinions/values you carry resonate with the best of what I remember of life in Chester County. I no longer feel so homesick as you hold the signature of what consider the best of the place.

      • Carla, I don’t aways agree with you on some issues, but the amount of research and effort you blog is always informative current and I look forward to everything you blog. I am a West Vincent resident for over 30 years and you gave a voice to many who had none about the goings on in this towship.
        God Bless you for the courage and wisdom you display in all you do to make Chester County a better place to live.
        Frances S.Ellis

  2. Thanks for the mention and I’m happy you enjoyed my blog. So glad it struck a chord with you.

    As for Irene Levine and her Friendship Blog, Irene is a professor at (I think) Columbia…or NYU. Either one are great universities. She is well thought of and so is her blog so I’m also happy you found it as well.

    Have a great day in Chester County. Was that named for me? Just joshing.

    • LOL Cathy I can’t believe you read my blog! How awesome! I also have a great friend who lives with MS who is your kind of woman!

  3. Carla,
    I am saddened to read posts of yours where you have become ‘offended’ by others on a personal level. I wrote you earlier to support your efforts as a blogger and encouraged you to grow a thick skin. Once again, I encourage you to grow a thicker skin and also to allow yourself some time for reflection on posts of a personal bent. As I intend that to come to you, it doesn’t mean ‘ignore more’ or ‘feel less’ or make your post “impersonal.”
    Look back at your many politically edged posts. You don’t pull punches. Your blog posts represent you as a woman of both conviction and opinion. On your blog, and as a “blogger,” you also share a significant amount of personal information in a totally public manner. Not all bloggers work this way. On this one, I hear “anger” in your “offended.” Perhaps I read too much into it, perhaps not.
    Every person needs to set their personal limits, and they have that responsibility in this electronic age. Some might say it’s even an obligation to ourselves (and our loved ones) to be aware and conscious of what we share or expose which may appear online, posted not just by ourselves, but by others who are present or who have “access.”
    My wish is that you can step outside your emotions on this and look at where the other person may be with a bit more empathy and grace. Her concern might have been that you might reveal something she considers private that she has shared with you. …. by golly gosh… a transition from an acquaintance to a “friend” is rather private, and here we are discussing it in a public forum. You may have walked (inadvertently?) directly in the path that she feared most. Or it may be something else in her world entirely.
    That is my piece of this one, and that is my wish. I know that it is about me from my vantage point, and I know I may not get my wish.
    Keep on keeping on.
    SDR

    • You can’t presume women are going to approach things emotionally like a man. No, if I was angry I would say so. But I was legitimately hurt and offended.

      I share my own experiences because my writing mentors have always told me to write what you know. Yet what I write in public and what I share in private are two entirely different things. Except for my breast cancer experiences – those I have shared publicly because it was a way of healing and staying positive…. And surviving everything that occurred to me that I couldn’t control in the least. But because I share bits of myself in my writing it doesn’t mean I am some reality TV show person with cameras following them everywhere including their bathroom.

      You presume I know no boundaries and that in and of itself could be considered offensive. I know you didn’t mean it that way but (again) you can’t expect a woman to think like a man. Or feel like a man. Or feel like anyone else. Feelings and emotions are personal.

      I am discussing this in a public forum because I am a writer and writing is often my catharsis….I do indeed have a right to have felt offended and hurt and if I don’t release it out there to the universe in a manner that I am comfortable with it’s negative emotion that will fester. I write about things at times to release them. Think, write, release. Online journaling after a fashion.

      Some friends said to me blogging doesn’t define you it’s something you do and that by saying you can’t be friends with me because I’m a blogger is like saying you can’t be friends with someone because they are anywhere from garbage collectors to police personnel or politicians or artist or housewife and so on.

      Also as a blogger, what I have discovered from other friends who are true traditional journalists and some are also bloggers is that they have experienced this too – and every time it was when they had a use people were friendly towards them. When they circle back after the use was completed these people had no use for them as friends.

      Bloggers are people too. This isn’t a simple equation of having a thick or thin skin.

  4. This one struck a chord, Carla. As a sister blogger and one who trades in information about local stuff like yourself, I would be pretty hurt if someone mistook me for a gossip and, on that basis, “unfriended” me. Keep up the good writing! — Feeling your pain here at SAVVYMainLine…

    • It wasn’t a case of unfriending so to speak it was more like I felt used. For a while I was OK to be friendly with, just not friends in the long-haul.

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