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.
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 (c. 50 – 120)