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The Jewish Santa Bunny
Ever been in that place where youíre just reeling from shock? How about feeling like a complete idiot for having no clue about whatís going on around you? Stabbed in the back? That pretty much sums up the past two days here in ďRo FalloutĒ Land.
What exactly did happen? Iím still not quite clued in. I mean, the short story is that I hurt some feelings and lost some friends over it. When you read it like that, it sure sounds like I have a lot of apologizing and groveling to do. And, believe me when I say that originally that is what I wanted to do. The thing is that as events unfold, Iím no longer certain that is what needs to be done. Because, in this case, things are not exactly how they seem. The cover of this story is totally deceivingÖwhatís inside sure as heck doesnít match whatís on the outside.
Here is my attempt to tell the entire story. I need to get all these words and feelings that are floating around in my head and put them on paper. Thatís the only way I can get them out and move beyond this whole ugly mess. Writing has always been the thing I do when I need to dump bad feelings from my head. Itís cathartic. This time, though, Iím not even sure about where to start. This tale has so many chapters that go in such different directions. Not only that, but there are pieces of the story missing. They have been told, but they now live in a place that I canít get to. That chapter of my life with Yahoo has been permanently locked to me.
I guess the story really begins about four years ago when I got pregnant with Jared. We hadnít been living here that long, and even though I had just joined a playgroup and met some other moms, I wasnít close to them yet. I had a miscarriage before having Bailey and I wasnít ready to announce my pregnancy so early to casual friends. But, at the same time, I really needed someone to talk to about the pregnancy. I joined a Yahoo club with ladies that were all due in December of 2001, just like me. Once everyone started having their babies, the club got very quiet and lonely. Jared wasnít born until the last week of December, so I was hanging out, miserably pregnant, with none of my pregnant friends to whine to. They were all busy with their new babies. Boy, did that get depressing! LOL!! Somewhere around the time that Jared was born, I got invited to another due in December club. One of the moms that I was friendly with in my club had the moderator invite me because they were still hopping, even though most of the babies had been born. Some groups just click like that. I really liked this new club. Then, Yahoo struck and started changing all their clubs to group format. One of the ladies got smart and instead of waiting for Yahoo to make a mess and lose our stuff, she created a new group and moved us over. Like me, she was in 2 clubs, and she merged us into one. Not everyone from both groups joined, and not everyone that joined was really active, but it was pretty lively. I had to meet a whole bunch of new people again, yet I was very happy in this new group. I met some amazing women and felt that I had found my niche in cyberspace.
When I say amazing, I really mean it, too. Over the past three years, weíve pulled together to celebrate one anotherís fortune and to mourn the loss of one of our own Winterbabies (darling TJ, you are now at peace). In between those extremes was the daily banter of friendship. Many emails were exchanged, snail mail cards and gifts were sent, long distance phone bills added up, and members met each other face to face. For three years this moved along. Sure, disagreements happened and feelings got hurt, but we were there for each other through thick and thin. The bonds of our friendship were stronger than a little tiff. We were truly an unusual group of women because we had learned how to be friends without all of the cattiness that can get in the way. We even tried to get Oprah to have us on her show because we knew how truly unique our friendship was.
That, of course, was the fantasy land I was living in. As I said, there were some disagreements. I was too naÔve, though, to see that a huge rift was forming between myself and the rest of the group. And, none of the people who claimed to be my friends said a word to me. I mean, they were more than happy to send me an email when they needed something, like a copy of a CD or to say a requisite ďthank youĒ (they wouldnít want to look rude, after all). But, not one of these friends discussed this apparently enormous problem with me. I know that Iím not totally crazy and that there was a day that we really were friends. I also know that I shoulder some of the responsibility for the breakdown of that friendship. Iím certainly not 100% to blame, though.
Now, youíd think that a true friend would talk to you if you suddenly started hurting their feelings, right? I know that I would. Iíd contact them, no question about it, and say, ďHey, girlie, youíve gotten pretty negative lately. Whatís going on?Ē OK, maybe not word for word, but something along those lines. That didnít happen here. Instead, my friends resorted to the age-old method of talking behind my back. And, they used those words and phrases that incite angerÖthings like ďbelittlingĒ and ďinsensitive.Ē And the snowball effect took off. See, the internet is a funny place. When you read something, you put your own inflection into the words. It canít be helped. Words on a screen are flat. Once someone was feeling hurt by my words, it became very easy to read nastiness and rudeness into my every word, whether it was really there or not. I realize that. I can see how that happens. Iíve done the misinterpreting thing myself. Iím sure we all have. But, still, when your friend is suddenly hurting your feelings with her every word, wouldnít you think something was wrong?
Yeah, not in this case. Instead, as I said earlier, things snowballed. As each person complained to someone new about my attitude, the group of people reading unintended meaning into my words grew larger and larger. Honestly, I can see how some of my comments can be read two ways. I am mature enough to admit that. Only, I would never mean them in a hurtful way. If I did have something confrontational to say, Iíd take it off list. Thatís where it belongs. Except, once you think someone is a bitch, itís easy to rationalize that she wouldnít be courteous enough to do that. Itís easy to say, ďOh, there she goes again with her belittling comments.Ē Other group members offered advice to each other, but my advice was constantly read as me being a know-it-all telling everyone what to do or insulting them and treating them like they are stupid. And, once I realized what was happening, I was already stuck. I didnít want to say something, because what if I were being oversensitive, reading too much into it. So, I got quieter and quieter. I rarely posted a message. I replied only to a few people, the ones I didnít think felt this way about my posts. I answered direct questions. But, even that wasnít enough.
I never had a chance. Enough other people have now told me that they think the underlying problem is religion, and I'm starting to believe it. I never want to believe that someone is anti-Semitic. I am too kind for my own good. However, it appears that in this case, that is the original issue. Do I believe that all the friends I lost are anti-Semitic? Of course not. I believe that some are, and that their negative attitude spread and poisoned the group. See, I was never allowed to share my religious differences. If I told the group about something that bugged me, and it was in any way related to me being Jewish, I got slammed for it. So, I eventually learned not to say anything about my religion unless it was to answer a question. And, I did just that a week ago. Here is where I need to digress. Bear with me for a moment.
Why is it that some Christians donít understand what Judaism is all about? What I mean is, why do they feel the need for me to participate in Christian customs? Iím Jewish. I am very comfortable with that. I love being asked questions about Jewish customs and getting to explain them to my Christian friends. I love discussing religious differences. Religion is fascinating. There is so much history and such great customs that have existed for so long! I can answer questions about why certain Jewish customs exist. Thatís easy. I have trouble answering questions about why I donít celebrate Christian customs, though. What is an appropriate answer? Itís not my belief. Why is that not enough of an answer for some people? Personally, I think it is very direct and answers the question perfectly. Besides, questions such as that are really insulting. What message do I send to my kids if I have to buy into the Easter Bunny to appear ďnormal?Ē Doesnít that invalidate my religious beliefs? I am the first to admit that the true meaning of Christmas is lost in commercialism for many people. And that Easter Bunny, well, he really has nothing to do with resurrection and the celebration of Easter. They are Hallmark icons. However, they are icons of Christian holidays, right? Now, back to the story.
I was asked, in the public forum, why I donít just have the bunny bring goodies to my kids. I was given the option of not answering, or answering off list, but I didnít do that. My original gut reaction was to say that I didnít know what to say and I wasnít going to answer. I knew, though, that it would be taken as snotty by a few of the ladies. So, with a major migraine brewing and feeling quite nauseous, I got the brilliant idea that this would be a wonderful opportunity to explain and educate. I decided that the person who asked the question was certainly not being insulting intentionally. She didnít know. I admit that my answer to her was short and curt. She got very upset. I can definitely see how that happened. And, I immediately took it off list and apologized. I tried to explain what I really meant. I did my best. Unfortunately, she is never going to understand my point of view. I donít want to convert anyone. I do, however, want people to learn to be sensitive to religious differences. Tolerance is a good thing. Acceptance is even better. And, learning about people different from yourself is how you grow as a person.
Hereís where I am no longer a part of my own story. Apparently, emails were exchanged detailing how rude I am and saying that I have nothing good to add to this wonderful group of caring women. No emails were sent to me. That is, until I woke up Thursday morning to find an email telling me that I was no longer welcome in the group. And, with that wave of the magic wand, I was unsubscribed from the group. I was devastated. I was feeling so guilty. How could I hurt people that way? I had planned to compose a heartfelt apology and beg forgiveness. I was so sure that it was my fault. As far as what was said to the group, Iíll never know. I did receive one instant message from a group member, telling me that she was so distraught over how things were handled. OK, so I wasnít the only one who thought it was a little off. That helped. She and I talked. I did not badmouth the group. Heck, I defended the person who unsubscribed me from the group. But, then things got so skewed.
The girl who sent me the instant message told the rest of the group how she felt. And she was ostracized for it. She couldnít take it and left the group. What is going on?!? Such a supportive group of friends eating each other alive? I never could have imagined this happening. Oh, and itís all 100% my fault apparently. Not one person can step up and take one shred of responsibility for the chaos. But, they can wait until I am gone and then make a free-for-all of bashing me in the group. I am infamous. The backstabbing and nasty comments have now been titled ďThe Ro Fallout.Ē So be it. In my heart, I know the truth. I wish they did, too. I know that I shouldnít care, but Iíd like to think they learned from this.
Other friends of mine feel it is very clear that certain members donít want a Jewish friend. Well, they donít have one. They effectively took care of that.
Thatís my saga. Hopefully telling it will help me move on from my first real encounter with anti-Semitism.
Do what to me?!? - April 24, 2007
Wicked funny websearch - April 05, 2007
Trot out the dogs 'n ponies - March 31, 2007
Almost done... - March 20, 2007
Who am I? - March 12, 2007