Shirley Harring

writer, farmer advocate, madwoman

Lights and Fairy Dust

April 22, 2009

Have you ever had cause to experience the feeling of betrayal? That awful, sick feeling that spreads from the pit of the stomach outwards. It affects each and every nerve end, it stirs up acid in the belly and it breaks the skin filming it in cold sweat.

A few years back, there were a group of girls who all hung out together, chatted and met when they could. Even the distance of miles was traversed in the cause of a good cuppa and a chin wag. Capital Cities and State borders were nothing more than places to meet and greet before marvellous 3 day weekends and trips to flea markets, antique fairs and junk shops. The group was close, and very often we would share news or things about ourselves and our families that was private – stories that came from deep places or tried to hide in dark recesses of our hearts.

Essentially, we reminded each other regularly that we were, collectively a ‘safe harbour’. That no matter what we said or shared, vented or spat, we were all accepted for who we were and that indeed venting safely was what we were all about.

As the years passed, something happened between a few of those girls and I never really knew what it was or why it happened. Everything we shared just stopped and we all drifted away. It was sad, and it was all ending about the time my dad passed, so it was quite sorrowful as I was not able to share with those whom I had supported at times.

But, such is life.

At times, I have thought fondly of those girls and of the things we shared. We were all so different and yet sisters within the group, it was something quite special. I do miss what the group was all about and what it was, in essence, a safe place for women, with women who cared.

Until today.

Today I found out that the whole group and sanctity of trust that was so valued was a farce.  What I found out, was that a small selection of these women formed a group, a chat group, a publicly archived group, where they proceeded to talk about those not in the inner sanctum. They dissected the lives of the group members, their husbands, their homes, their opinions, their points of view. They used names and they were free, so free in the speech. Some things they said in jest or sarcasm were just plain nasty.  Eventually, in the way of these things, this elitist group disbanded but their messages remain, publicly archived for anyone to read if they should stumble that way.  No wonder some of the other ladies in the group were confused at the sudden and somewhat bitter disbanding of this group.

Way back in the piece, when the group was still young, a member was trying her hand at lamp making.  She made me some lamps, and although they were not quite my style or quite what I had in mind, I valued them greatly. They were hand made, by someone I valued, and they were made with what I thought was grace and love. They have sat one each side of my bed head for years.

Today, after reading some of this uncovered material and feeling great sorrow at the content, I lay on my bed and tried to unscramble my thoughts. I felt sad. Angry. Confused. Betrayed. Out of the corner of my eye I could see one of the lamps. The lamp maker was one of the main players in the script that unfolded today. Her lines were cast with such bitterness, her manuscript shallow and hollow and nasty.  I could not stand it. I unplugged those lamps and dumped them in the garage so I don’t have to see them. In fact, I am thinking of giving them away altogether. They symbolised something that I thought was special and cherished, but really were nothing more than lights and fairy dust, sparkles and ribbons designed to disguise the ugliness underneath.

There is so much more that I could say but it would be pointless, a vent not productive, a sore left to fester. So I’ll close, with words from Epictetus and know that I am a little wiser in ways of the world and women, a little sadder in my faith in people, and in need of a shopping trip for lamps.

“If you do not wish to be prone to anger, do not feed the habit; give it nothing which may tend to its increase.”

Epictetus : Roman Stoic philosopher, former slave & tutor of Marcus AureliusEpictetus (c. 50 – 120)


  1. I read the word garage as garbage. I thought the lamps were dumped in the garbage. It would be appropriate.

  2. That is truly lousy. Turf the lamps or possibly smash them – could be ceremonious.

  3. I DO know how this feels. Exactly. Mine was an internet group of friends brought together by a shared experience of being breast cancer survivors. And the betrayal that came at the hands of some of the women who considered themselves “core” personalities was heartbreaking. I remember crying for days, weeks, even now I can cry if I think about it. And nobody around me truly understood because they were a) internet friends and b) cancer survivor friends (“Why would you want to be reminded of that terrible period of your life?”).

    A group of us who were betrayed and trampled upon are still close. Our shared experiences of betrayed trust has ensured that, for the past 6 years, we truly are a private group of trusted and wonderful friends who would more easily cut off our right arms (most of our breasts are already gone! (sorry…. insider joke!)) than betray each other.

    So… out of the heartrendering bad came good.

    I hope that something similar comes your way, Shirley. Because you deserve it.

    Oh… and I mis-read garbage for garage too. Sell them on E-Bay. Turn a profit. It will be a just karmic closure.

    (((((((((( Hug )))))))))))

  4. Should that have been “heart-rending”?

  5. Wow, I can’t believe they chatted about it on the internet. Not only are they bitches, but they weren’t thinking. Go forth, buy new lamps and burn the old ones.

  6. That is simply tragic. And I’m with you on getting rid of the lamps. Who needs the reminders?

  7. Oh how awful. Women like that are indescribable and they do not deserve your good thoughts. EBay the lamps. I’m so sorry that you have found this out but, then, perhaps it is for the better that you have – a closure on a sorry tale of women without soul.

  8. Broadsided is a term that is apt for this situation. I sit proudly beside you! oh and gobsmacked is another, I am sure a few more less choice words will come to me through the night ;0)

    • Alicia, broadsided is a good term. I hope you feel better today, too. Now I (we?) have had time to process the whole thing, I feel sorry for those who felt superior. Political history contains a great many stories of how destroying dictatorship and prejudice can be. xx

  9. Actually I don’t think there is anything worse than betrayal. The worse thing is, these women pass on this type of behaviour to their daughters. I find that galling. If you like friendship and honesty, find it elsewhere. They have just revealed themselves to be sadly lacking. You’re above it, and ditch the lamps!

  10. What an awful experience, and how hard to comprehend and recover from. Those lamps should be in the bin. In pieces. I am glad that you have good and true friends, and that you rise above the nastiness and pettiness. you can hold your head high.

  11. Ebay them.

    I have never understood why some women take more pleasure in cattiness than friendship. It boggles the mind.

    We have had some recent issues in Rob’s extended family of extreme betrayal of trust. Rob and I decided that while we firmly believe in forgiveness (more for our benefit in not being bitter than anything else), we have to cut ourselves off from those people who are mean and cruel.

    I’m so sorry that you had to experience this. Thinking of you.


  12. Your post brought tears to my eyes! I’m so sorry for your loss…the loss of trust, friendship, companionship. Relationships change, people move on. That’s no reason to betray confidences! Shame on them!

    The internet has become a place for some ‘bad people’ to vent terrible stories…how sad for all of us.

    Here’s wishing you peace and joy, which I’m sure will increase daily with your optimistic outlook on life!

    Love the quote by Epictetus…words to live by!

  13. Having been at the pointy end of betrayal, I know where you’re at.

    I too read garage as garbage, but I think they would have been binned or smashed if it was me! Big Hugs to you

  14. I didn’t read garage as garbage, but I WAS surprised that you didn’t just throw them out. As a teacher, there’s ample evidence that girls can be real bitches. Some women just never grow out of that whole ‘Mean Girls’ mentality.

  15. This recently happened to me from a person I’d counted as a friend and the truth came out through a misunderstanding due to her guilty conscious and the many lies she’d told.
    As the others have said – some women just never grew up, they’re still in the schoolyard.

  16. You’re well shot of those ladies and their lamps.
    Meanness is despicable, and betrayal as bad.
    You’re among friends here!


  17. Love those words of Epictetus…so, so true and a code I’m trying to live by after an 8 year friendship dissolved earlier this year. Apparently being the shoulder to cry on for 8 years deosn’t make me eligible to cry myself at any point, go figure. :)

    Go to Ikea…they have lovely lamps there! Shopping is a pretty good form of therapy too!

  18. I don’t understand what women get from tearing at other women. How awful. I also read garage as garbage, strangely enough. I’d be rid of the lamps.

  19. I’m glad you’ve ditched those lamps. Ebaying them would be my first choice ~ then I’d take the money, put it into a joint account (so it mingles & can’t be traced to any particular replacement item). Good riddance to the lamps and those “friends”.

    • Thanks so much everyone. This sad siuation is something I just want to see go away now. I am thankful I have this platform on which to vent and be heard by understanding ears. Thanks for the opportunity to blow steam.

  20. What a hurtful situation. Sadly, replicated all too often when it comes to women’s (and I guess men, too?). There are always people who see themselves as being just a little bit clever/better/insert adjective here than everyone else. It’s why I don’t do quilt guilds any more – even as a spectator the politics and chivying for position is horendous to watch. I know that the mods of a particularly well known on-line quilt group have a separate yahoo group for the “inner circle and friends” group where less than kind things are said. I’m not sure if it’s worse to do that kind of thing to people you know, or to people you only think you know. It’s a betrayal of trust, whichever way you look at it.

    Don’t destroy the lamps, don’t sell them. Send them back to her and tell her why. That would truly be karmic.

    • You know, Kate – I think that’s such a good idea, except I would not even want to waste the money on postage.

      Sadly, I do not want to hear from those so called friends ever again, no matter how sorry they may be.

      Some people are best just set free.

      Karma will do it’s thing, lamps or no lamps.

      How awful to hear of the quilters group. I do not understand what sense of social justice some people have.

  21. poop on them you are a star in my universe le xoxox

  22. whoa. I am so sorry that you were betrayed because I know how much it hurts. I also know that no amount of knowing why…jealousy, shallow, pathetic, miserable, etc… takes away the sting and bewilderment of it. It happens in my family of origin and it sickens me. I have two awesome sons who are not perfect, but perfectly imperfect to me, and they have taken the lessons I tried to teach them about such things when they were little boys and used them to help me get through something like this with my parents and siblings by reminding me not to feed into any of it or give them one more moment of my life by thinking about it (which is hard in the beginning). After I vented and cried and thought of ways to make them sorry, they helped me to focus that energy into positive thoughts and activities and cautioned me against going back for a “second helping.” Luckily it appears that you have a wonderful group of friends and are best to be rid of the nasty wenches after all. ((Hugs))

  23. Pingback: Turn, Turn, Turn « Rhubarb Whine

Your turn...

%d bloggers like this: