Sunday, April 26, 2009

Friends

I recently had an eye-opening experience that resulted in a hard lesson in self worth and self esteem. Through it, I have gained insight that I may not have ever learned had I not been presented the opportunity to do so. I have wondered whether I should blog about it, and I hesitate to do so for fear of possibly disclosing the parties involved. But I decided I wanted to share this experience, even for the few who will read this, because I feel that others may benefit from knowing what I went through, and the lesson it took to remember who I am and who I want to be.

As a woman I am no different than the girl next door, the mother in the supermarket, the fashion model or the female CEO of a successful company. I have self-esteem and self worth issues. Every woman is their own worst critic and can undoubtedly find SOMETHING about themselves that they hate or dislike. It's no secret that I struggle with my weight, depression, anxiety, and a myrid of self-esteem issues. Needless to say, I don't feel like I'm any different than anyone else on this earth. I have problems and I deal with them. But sometimes something happens that makes you doubt yourself. Just when you think you have a handle on the unwelcome self-critisims, someone says something to you that erases everything you have worked so hard to achieve.

A few months ago my brother got me hooked on Facebook. I hadn't even heard of Facebook until a long-time friend was looking for me. She found him and gave him specific instructions for me to get my bootie signed up so we could catch up. I did, and the last few months have been a fun journey as I've tried to locate childhood friends, old roommates and reconnect with family. Up until 2 days ago it has been a fairly positive experience.

In the facebook world your "friends" are only acquired through the acceptance of an invitation. You invite someone you know to be your friend, and if they so choose, they can accept or decline your request. Once you are friends with someone you can view their profile of personal information and any pictures they post for viewing. If after you have agreed to be someones FB friend and you don't want to anymore, you can choose to remove them from your list at anytime you wish. Doing this is a personal decision that some FB users don't see as a big deal. But what happens when you are deleted by a person you didn't expect to remove you from their list. It's impossible not to take it personally when you start to wonder why the person X-ed you. "Did I say something to offend?" "Was it just a mistake, and they really meant to cross off a different name, and had inadvertently clicked on my name instead?" These are questions you might ask yourself if this happens to you. "Is it really a big deal? It IS JUST facebook."

I asked myself these exact questions 2 days ago when I learned that I had been de-friended by someone I didn't expect. This was someone that I had a good and positive relationship with and never said or did anything to be hurtful or rude. I wondered to myself if this person had meant to "say" something without saying it by booting me off his/her proverbial FB island. I then concluded that it surely must have been a mistake, and sought out to make sure.

So I sent a friendly message...

Hi,
I noticed today that you have taken me off your FB friends list and I was just curious why. I hope that I didn't say anything to offend you, and if I have, please accept my apology. I would hope that if I had, indeed, said something that offended you, you would tell me. I thought we were actual friends and not just FB friends, and this is why I'm puzzled.
Emily.

This was the response that came later the same day:

Hi Emily,
It makes me feel good to know that you consider us more than just FB friends. I would like to attempt to explain why I took you (along with others) off my "friends" list. Since we have been FB friends, I have noticed you are not the same woman that I remember. I had been so impressed with you the first time I met you. You really were so beautiful and I remember your eyes really seemed to shine. I guess from watching you from the FB point of view, it appears to me as though the light that I had seen shining so brightly in you before, has faded quite a bit. It makes me feel sad. It has been hard for me to see the things that you have been doing and saying on FB. Recently I have been through some very trying times and I have had a strong desire to surround myself with everything that is positive. Anything that's not, I try to distance myself. Sadly, for the moment, that has included some family members as well. This is why I have deleted a few of my "friends". I hope that this doesn't make you angry. I am not trying to judge you (even if it sounds that way). You really can do whatever you choose. I just need to make the choice to do what is best for me emotionally and spiritually. Please remember that you did ask and I am just respectfully answering.

Tears filled my eyes as I read those words. I really couldn't believe what I was reading. I felt like an injustice had occured as I fought back the inclination to believe the judgements that had been placed on me. All the insecurities I have felt about myself throughout the years had surfaced without hesitation and I wondered what was wrong with me. I soon realized that nothing was wrong with me, only with the person whom had a problem with me.

The following is my final communication:

Although I am curious as to what you may be referring to regarding the things I am saying and doing on FB, I won't ask because whatever it may be, doesn't matter. I am not ashamed of anything I may have said or done. It is quite puzzling to me though since I have never directed any of my actions toward you. I respect that you may choose to distance yourself with those who may not be "uplifting" in your eyes, and you're right it is sad.

I wonder why when we met you were so impressed with me. Or could it be that you are drawn to those individuals that you have a religious commonality with? and since we don't agree with respect to that, you feel that a "light' has faded in me. Please know that I am not angry in the slightest even though you feel you haven't judged me, when you have. Again, you are free to be FB friends with whomever you wish, it's just sad to me that you would distance yourself from people that care about you just because you don't agree with their choices or beliefs. It is disconcerting to feel like my actions would have such an emotional effect on you that you would feel like you couldn't be a part of my life, even if for the time being is only through FB.

The lesson I learned that day is one I've been trying to teach my children regarding the difficulties they experience with relationships at school. Every time they come home from school with sadness in their eyes because someone was mean to them, I try to help them see that not everyone is going to like them, no matter how hard they try to be their friend. It's not an easy thing for little kids to understand because the pressure to be liked and fit in is so strong. It breaks my heart when I hug them tight and try to make better what occurs when friends say hurtful things to them. It doesn't always comfort them the way they need it to, because regardless of the positive words I offer, they will undoubtedly experience the same thing again throughout their lives.

So, I had to re-teach myself the same lesson. So, someone doesn't like me, or agree with my lifestyle. I can't change their mind unless I change myself in the process. I don't want to change. I don't have to change. I won't change just to please someone that may never be satisfied with my choices. I can't live my life exactly like someone else because then my choices wouldn't be mine. It's a shame that this communication and insight into someones thoughts and ideas of me can't just roll of my back like water on a duck. It's hurtful knowing that in spite of all my other shortcomings and insecurities, I had to doubt my self worth as a woman, and a person for that matter. And it's sad knowing that I allowed the negative opinion someone has of me to bruise my heart. Well, bruises heal and so will my heart, and maybe one day the individual who so harshly judged my character will see how flawed their perception of me really is. Either way, I'm not going to keep from being myself, or allow this situation to make me feel badly anymore. Life is too short to dwell on experiences or people you can't change.


Post script:
My intention in posting this experience was not to name names or embarass those involved here. I am merely choosing to constructively, and respectfully express my feelings regarding the issue. This is why I have kept the identities private. Although I was hurt and upset with the initial conversation, I am no longer troubled by this experience, and have only used this forum to share how I dealt with this uncomfortable situation.

1 comment:

heatherlovesboo said...

To befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. M.K. Gandhi.

To "defriend" a good person because of differences in religious paths taken is the true quintessence of someone who is not really paying attention to the gospel they are supposedly subscribing to so staunchly.

I love that you turn your frown upside down with any bump in the road that you encounter. Good job, Emily.

Heather Burns