Jealousy by mail

I was super stoked about my postcard from a person who is a member of an online group I belong to.  It was a surprise – we’d not been in communication.  There is a file where group members can share their addresses if they would like to get mail, so I left mine.  (I’ve covered up our addresses here with cough drops).

I thought it was really cute and inventive. The postcard has washi tape with botanical images on it, and rubber stamp markings. There is also a tiny envelope! How creative!

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This is what was inside.

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The cleverly designed thing folds out into a strip with washi tape with constellations on it.

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…but now I feel left out because of all that this person got.  She posted it on the group page and tagged her, so I know it is from her.

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…and here is a picture from another person – more stuff that she got from this member.

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Both say it was a surprise – that they weren’t already friends with her.

I’m really jealous.

Which is a terrible thing to feel because it wasn’t like she promised me anything at all.  I should be grateful, but in comparison to the other people’s mail, I feel sad and jealous.  And I hate feeling like that.

They had no way of knowing that there was any inequality.  But I’m sure there are others in the group who didn’t get a letter and they are wondering “why not me?”

It is something I wrestle with on my personal page.  Do I share pictures of a party I went to where some friends weren’t invited? They will know they were left out.

I remember in school we were told to bring enough (of whatever) for the rest of the class – or don’t bring it to share at all. We had to include everyone.

I hate it when my friends invite people in a shared group to go to a new restaurant or experience, and don’t invite me.  I know they didn’t invite me because they either don’t tag me on the invite – which I can see because I am friends with them, or because they post pictures of the “good times with good friends”, and I wasn’t there.

I hate it.  And it keeps happening. It happened all the time with the SCA “household” I was a part of. It is part of why I finally left. It made no sense for the head of the household to question why I wasn’t hanging out with the others. He implied that my husband was controlling me, that there was something ugly going on. Yes, there was something ugly going on. The head – and his wife – and other members of the household – didn’t invite me to these gatherings. Over and over and over. How could I hang out with them if they didn’t let me know? I was especially hurt when they decided to take a jewelry making class together and didn’t invite me – knowing that was one of my interests. But to then think that I wasn’t social with them because I was in an abusive relationship? Insane.  

And last night I’d finally had it and cried big ugly tears and I still don’t feel better about it.

Social media isn’t social sometimes.  Sometimes it just lets you know how much you are missing out on.  It feels like bullying.

Think before you post. Think about the feelings that will get hurt. Think about who you are excluding. You don’t have to share everything.

Do I invite everyone to events? No. But I’m discrete about it. You don’t have to invite a whole group to some happening. You may not want a large group. You may like certain people in the group more. But be mindful that you don’t let the people who were left out know that they were left out.

Now, I can’t control if other people who were invited tell them inadvertently and thoughtlessly. But I try to do my part.

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Blue escape

A meditation on leaving bad doctors, clubs, churches – of feeling ignored, part of a machine, a number but not a name. How big community isn’t community anymore. And – an excuse to make use of an art supply that others don’t think of as an art supply – aluminum foil. Thus – Seeing things in new ways. Making use of a bad situation.

Gesso
Crumpled thin aluminum foil from Baja Burrito
Tissue with distress ink stains
Stamps
Envelope
Copied money
Acrylic paint
Crushed glass sparkle glitter
Glazing medium
14 x 11 canvas

Whole
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Top left
b2

Top right
b3

Bottom left
b4

Bottom right
b5

Current iteration worked on March and April 2016. (It may or may not be completed.)

Questionable boyfriend

A lady came into the library recently with a guy I recognize. He’s a patron from years ago, and not a good one. She asked him if he wanted to check and see if he had a card. He shrugged her off, but came up to me later.

He said that she was his girlfriend, and he had been using her card. I was pretty sure he had an account that he couldn’t use because it wasn’t in good standing.

I was right. There was a reason he didn’t do any of this in front of her.

He had a dozen CDs out and hadn’t returned them in years. He’d been billed for them, and his account had gone to collections. He owed over $300.

He knew all of this. It wasn’t a surprise. Maybe he was hoping it would have just disappeared.

I told him his options. Find them and bring them back. Buy replacement copies of what is lost. Or pay the fine. He walked away.

They both came up later, and he’d again used her card to check out. She seems like a decent person. She doesn’t look like she would date him. I wanted to warn her – don’t marry him. Stay away.

I can see more than his fines. I can see more than his unwillingness to be responsible with his account. I know that he was caught trying to spray paint this building.

I also can tell more from what he is reading. He’d checked out “urban erotic fiction.” This is what black women in the projects read. It is rough stuff – and straight white guys certainly don’t read it. Perhaps he’s gay? Because the only other guy I’ve ever known to read “urban erotic fiction” was.

This isn’t going to go well.

The last time I warned someone away from a questionable guy I got censured very badly. There was a guy who wasn’t very reliable who was in the medieval reenactment group I was in many years ago. He’d promise the moon and not deliver. He was forever making up his own rules about things. He was shifty, and we’d early on learned to not let him be in charge of anything because he always let the group down.

He started dating this girl who was very nice but very innocent. She was trusting – too trusting. I felt like it was my duty to clue her in to his history with the group.

It all backfired on me.

At an event, months after my talk with her, my knight (I was in a household with a knight as the head) pulls me from what I was doing and says we are going to have a meeting. Next thing I know, I’m sitting at a table with the knight, the girlfriend, and the guy. I’m suddenly on trial and I’ve not had any warning. Turns out she talked to her boyfriend, and he talked to my knight. Nobody had come up to me privately.

It was uncomfortable. It was intense. And I felt betrayed by my knight.

I was asked why I said what I said. My main answer was to protect her. My brother has been married four times and the successive wives didn’t know about his lies and the previous wives. They’d gotten hurt very badly. I felt that I had a chance with this lady to let her know what she was getting in for. I didn’t have a chance with my brother’s wives. I could have saved them a lot of trouble.

I was then asked who told me what I said. Some of what I knew was from before I was in the group, so it was information that was revealed to me. I refused to answer this. It isn’t who told me that is the issue. It is the fact that I repeated it. I wasn’t told by just one person, and my personal experiences with this guy had borne out this impression that he wasn’t trustworthy. Heck – even my knight had told me stories about how shifty he was. I held my ground on this one.

Plus – I didn’t think it was fair to throw other people under the bus, just because I was getting run over.

I meant well, and I got hurt. I didn’t trust my knight after that. I didn’t talk to this guy or his girlfriend ever again either. It ruined my experience in this group that was my main social outlet. I know this group was supposed to be about honor and chivalry, but I felt like I was doing the right thing, and I feel even today that how the situation was handled was inappropriate.

So I’m a little wary of telling anybody to stay away from shady guys.

I don’t think this is the lesson I should have learned.

We read stories about women who were suckered by guys who made them think they were great people, and all the people around them knew the real story. Her friends and family saw how he was when he wasn’t with her. They said nothing, and it all went very badly. In the best case, her heart gets broken. In the worst case, she’s dead.

Is it worth it? Are we supposed to be silent? Are we supposed to pretend that the skunk will turn into a kitty cat? Are we supposed to think that if we don’t tell her our concerns that it will all work out for the best?

This seems stupid. This is how predators continue to work. We are aiding and abetting them with our silence.

How much am I allowed to say at work? Would it be considered slander? Could I get fired for expressing my opinion of this guy to his girlfriend? Library records are private, by law. Even a wife doesn’t have access to her husband’s account unless he gives her his card.

I don’t think this guy is dangerous – just untrustworthy. That can become dangerous.

Many names of God

When Muslims pray the 99 names of God they don’t believe that there are 99 different gods. They believe that there are 99 different attributes of God. God has many names but is still one God.

It is kind of like me. I am Betsy, but legally I am Elizabeth. To my husband I am his wife, to my coworkers I am their coworker, to my friends I am their friend. I am always me, but other people have different ways of interacting with me and know me in different ways. It depends on how they see me as to how they refer to me.

God is the same. “God” is just a descriptive, after all, not a name. In the Bible, God uses the name “I AM”. God is known as Elohim, as Jehovah, as Lord, as the Almighty, the Creator… the list goes on and on.

While there are different names for God, we are still talking about the same God that created the Earth, spoke to Abraham, and was made known on Earth as Jesus.

I’m not so sure if people are talking about the same God when they refer to Spirit.

I know a lot of people who are disillusioned with church and have left. They seem to like parts of it but not all of it. I get that. I left church too.

Some of them like the ritual. Some like the community. Some like the hymns. They are creating their own version of “church” with the pieces they like, but leaving out the pieces they don’t.

They are having circles where people talk about what is important to them, or they paint, or they drum, or they recite poetry.

I get that too.

But I’m strongly opposed to them calling it “church” if Jesus isn’t present. If they don’t read the Word of God and they don’t celebrate Communion, then why call it church? It is more coffeehouse gathering than church.

Let us call things by their true names. Let us not deceive ourselves and say that we are going to “church” when Jesus isn’t present. The same is true of the “mega churches” with their “Prosperity Gospel”.

Things evolve, of course. I left a medieval reenactment group because it stopped being a medieval reenactment group. Years ago, people who were thinking about joining asked if they could dress up like fairies and vampires, and the members told them no. They said that had nothing to do with the group. The focus of the group was “A day in the life of a European court.” The time period was pre-1500s. But then slowly it became more and more “early period” with more and more people showing up in shapeless garments with animal skins tied around them. Then, the Middle-Eastern re-enactors started showing up.

Now this group looks nothing like what it looked like when I joined. It has stopped being “A day in the life of a European court” and started being a “come as you want to be” party. When will the Klingons and the Silurians show up?

I’m all for everyone feeling welcome and included. I like the idea of “All are welcome” and “radical inclusion”. But I feel like at some point a line has to be drawn. Are we talking about the same thing? Are we still on the same page?

Hummus has a few basic things that make it hummus – garbanzo beans, oil, citrus juice, and tahini, all blended up in a food processor. While you can exchange black beans for garbanzo beans, and you can use lime juice instead of the traditional lemon juice, that is as far as you can go. After that, it stops being hummus. You can’t put apples in a blender and call it hummus. You can’t add tahini to a pot roast and call it hummus. There are certain things that you must have, and if you don’t have them, you don’t have hummus.

Church is the same way. You can strip away the ritual and the hymns and it is still church. You don’t even have to gather together in person – you could have a videoconference. You can add in dance, or painting. You don’t need musical instruments, or you can have a whole symphony.

But you have to have God, and you have to have Jesus, for it to be church. And they can’t be implied or guessed at. There has to be no doubt about it.

What about “the Goddess”?

While I’m fine with the idea of the many sides of God being welcomed and included, actually including the idea of the “Goddess” is totally not acceptable in church. Remember “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”? That is a big one. To worship the “Goddess” is a complete violation of that commandment.

God has many aspects, not all of them related to gender. You can be a feminist and still worship God. But the Goddess isn’t God – she is another thing entirely. If you want to worship the Goddess, fine. That is your choice. But then it isn’t church. It is something else. To call it church is deceiving to yourself and others.

So what about those names of God? At what point does God stop being God? At what point are you worshipping something else? At what point are you not in a worship service at all?

These are important questions to ask yourself.