Well, well, well. Here we are again. Apologies for the hiatus, I am STILL dealing with my knee injury and I find that I have days were I am in the most sullen of moods and don’t want to leave the bed. I believe the fancy-pants term for that is ‘depression’; I use the phrase ‘I’m sad because my knee feels stabby-achy’. (For the record. “stabby-achy” is defined, by me, as follows: imagine if someone stabbed you, that’s where the stabby part comes from, then imagine that they left the knife in and every 10 seconds, they give it a little jiggle, that’s the achy part. It’s not as jarringly painful as the initial stab, but it’s incredibly uncomfortable.)
Lately, I’ve been feeling better emotionally, which is not to say that I still don’t have days were I turn off my phone, bring in the dog, shut my door, binge-watch Netflix and nap the day away, but they are less frequent. (I’m not sure how much of an accomplishment that is, because ANYTHING is less frequent than every day.)
I may or may not have had a glass of wine or two while writing this, so bear with me if this appears as a rambling diatribe from a lunatic. I mean, that might very well be what this is, so in that case, just go with it. I am going to tell you the following story in order to tell you another story.
Let me set the scene …
March 25th, it’s Sushi’s birthday, so naturally I’m celebrating by letting her snuggle inside all day and spoiling her rotten with treats (healthy ones, don’t freak out, focus on the story). We’re in my room, sprawled out on the bed watching movie, I’m giving her the 6th belly rubbing session of the day when my phone chirps: I have a facebook message! It’s from my good friend [Lady name]! I open up the messenger app to find the single most unexpected message I have ever received:“hi i need you to be really fucking honest with me right now katie i found some messages between you and my husband and i want to know what if anything has EVER happened between you two i think you owe me that much”
Thrown, bewildered, perplexed, stumped, flummoxed, blindsided; other words that mean confused. Some background here: I have been friends with [Lady name] and her husband for going on 10 years now. I moved away to Montana, but we remained friends, keeping in touch via GoogleChat, Facebook and texting. We never seemed to find ourselves in California at the same time until recently when I moved back. In the 14 months since I have been in the state, I have seen [Lady name] a grand total of four (perhaps 5?) times. I have seen her husband twice. Not only do I not know what messages she is referring to, I also have no idea what time frame we’re talking about. Were they messages I sent him throughout the years I lived in Montana? What could be in them that is so offensive? I reacted immediately by responding, truthfully, with this: “NEVER!! I promise! What messages?”
Only three more messages were exchanged, two of them coming from me. The last communication I had from [Lady name] is as follows:
“somehow that just doesn’t seem to add up after reading that shit
got quite the thing for him for what i read
which is funny
because when things could have been on the up and up you didn’t seem to want any part of that”
(SIDE NOTE: They are engaged in an open marriage. I only bring this up because if left unsaid, this message doesn’t make sense.)
The first thing that sprang to mind?
Here is a woman that I have known for years, whom I have loved for years, whose family I have considered my own, and she has thrown this at my feet. No explanation, no rhyme or reason, no benefit of the doubt, no further communication. I was devastated. I cried. I tried to get her to talk to me. I attempted a search through my various chat servers to search for any message that could be construed as me moving in on her man, but the chats I had had with her husband were so old, they were no longer saved in GoogleChat. Facebook was coordinating help with moving heavy objects over a year ago. Hell, I even opened up my Yahoo! Messenger for the first time in THREE YEARS to look for these elusive messages and I came up a message that simply read “I’m so booooored” that went unanswered.
I owned up to, what I believed to be, a harmless conversation about open relationships. I have friends who are poly-amorous and I’m always curious as to why they’ve decided to wander down that particular path. I myself am monogamous, one man at a time please. Form a line. HA. HA. HA. In all seriousness though, I don’t see how they can do it. I have a jealous streak a mile wide and I don’t share with others. When I am with someone, I am with only them and I expect unwavering loyalty in return. The conversation I had with the husband went something along the lines of me asking him how he can be okay with other men being in his wife’s bed and telling him much of what I just told you. His response was something along the lines of explaining that he believes [Lady name] is so amazing, that he wants other people to know what an amazing person she is. This is the only conversation we had, to my recollection, that concerned our love lives. By the time she had offered (yes, you read that correctly) her husband to me, I had already made some epic missteps where my sex life was concerned and I wasn’t looking to add anything to that list any time soon. Sleeping with friends’ husbands isn’t even on the list of things-that-could-happen-if-I-had-a-brain-aneurysm-and-went-out-with-a-bang.
I sulked for a good week afterward. I didn’t know what to do. The husband was still my friend on Facebook, [Lady name] having deleted me the day she sent the message. I was afraid to message him. I wanted to ask him what the hell was happening, wanted to know what she was talking about, wanted to know if he had said something in the heat of an argument that involved a fictitious account of an affair between the two of us. I was so terrified that she would be monitoring his accounts (seeing as how she started this mess by saying “I FOUND messages) and would take any communication as an admission of guilt. So I stayed away. I left him as a friend and went about my business.
And I got ANGRY.
I’m not a fan of messages that end in “you owe me that much”. First off, I owe you NOTHING. Especially if what you’re accusing me of isn’t true. I feel, and this is just my own moral code talking, that if you end a message in such a fashion, you are obligated to listen to what the other person has to say. When writing an accusatory message like the one I received, there is a 93% chance that you have already made up your mind as to the person’s guilt and therefore have no business adding that phrase as a sign-off.
I started to seethe. To obsess over the conversation she and I had had. I stewed on the injustice of it all. Some choice song lyrics came to mind, first “Just give me an hour and then, I’ll be as high as that ivory tower that you’re living in!” (Friends In Low Places, Garth Brooks). And then came “Tell your boyfriend, if he says he’s got beef, that I’m a vegetarian and I ain’t fucking scared of him!” (Don’t Trust A Hoe 3OH!3). Followed closely by “I never really hit a bitch, so I’m gonna smack ya. This won’t even be a fight, because I’m knockin’ you out and my name ain’t dick so keep it out of your mouth!” (Lump Your Head, Hollywood Undead)
[I’m not perfect, I like music with bad language in it, moving right along …]
Then I got nervous.
What if [Lady name] started spreading this rumor. Would it be like last time. Oh right, THERE WAS A LAST TIME. When I was in high school, a third party from church (FROM CHURCH! It’s a wonder I don’t despise the house of God) whispered into my mother’s ear that I was being inappropriate with the husband of [Lady name]; then he started to whisper poison into the ear of [Lady name] herself and things got crazy. —For the record, I would like to reiterate that nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING has ever happened between this guy and I other than friendship. Ever. I had a crush on him when we were kids and that was as far as it went. When he introduced me to his wife and children, any traces of childhood crush I may have had floating around in my brain were ground into dust, especially because his wife and I really hit it off.— For the first time, and obviously not for the last, I wasn’t given the benefit of the doubt. I went straight to [Lady name], we had a sit down on her front porch and I swore on the head of my favorite grandmother that there was nothing going on, I didn’t even have the faintest of fleeting feelings for her husband. She and I banded together as friends and squashed the rumors.
This time, though, things were different. She wasn’t in the talking things out mood. I started to worry that she would tell people the fiction she had invented. I was still grieving the loss of, what I assumed to be, a great friend of mine; I couldn’t bear the thought of losing more people over a lie.
Then I got angry again.
Who gives a shit who she tells?? As the expression goes ‘Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter’. If people were going to blindly believe her story, then they weren’t my friends in the first place. The flip side of that coin is that my inner circle, my tribe, would recognize the falsehood immediately and/or come to me, seeking to know the truth.
Thus concludes the first story; let’s move on to the reason I wrote this post.
“Shun those that would cause discord among you.”
This was the phrase that really hit home with me when I heard it this Sunday. For the first time since Easter, I untangled myself from the warm, cuddly mass of blankets that made up my bed, peeled myself away from my teddy bear of a dog and got myself ready for church. I typically sleep in on Sundays because sitting for the hour-and-change-long service hurts my leg, but something about this week made feel like going (see also: divine intervention). So I endured Sushi’s pathetic stare as I shut her outside and tagged along with the family to Wildwood Cavalry Chapel. Is it a good church? Yes, the teachings are solid, the band is rocking and the people are friendly. However, I don’t feel like it’s my ‘home church’. I don’t get a sense of belonging there and that’s okay, there are plenty of other churches out there for me to discover and evaluate, but for the time being WCC is where I attend. Most of the time, I kind of zone out during the sermon (bad Christian, BAD, blah blah blah), mostly because I’m tired. And maybe a little bored. And maybe I feel weird because my mom is SO into it and I know she wants me to be SO into it and then I’m not and I feel sheepish (another story for another time). This week, though, I made an attempt to listen. Is it because I’ve started fasting on Sundays (it’s a nutritional thing, not a sackcloth-and-ashes thing) and I needed anything to keep my mind off of food? Perhaps. Is it because there was a little voice in the back of my head quietly muttering “you need this, shut up and pay attention”? Perhaps more. Either way, it worked and the message sunk in.
REWIND: Saturday night, I was going through some old photos on Facebook when I came across one that my ex-boyfriend had commented on. In this little quip, he mentioned that he loved me. I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t feel angry, I felt … nostalgic. I clicked on his name and visited his profile for the first time in over a year. After looking at a few pictures, the only thought that came to mind was. “I hope you’re doing okay, you big doofus.” I don’t want him back, I haven’t forgotten what he did and said, I don’t know how I would react if I saw him tomorrow, but I know now that I’m ready to forgive; I’m ready to let it all go. I hope he is with someone he truly cares for, I hope he has a job he enjoys more than the one he had when we were together, I hope his family is happy and healthy.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH: So I am sitting in church the next day and when the pastor steps up to the podium, he announces that we are going to be taking communion; I’ve taken communion I don’t know how many times, so I start to tune out at the instructions part–(Wildwood does it differently than other churches I’ve been to. Typically, you are instructed when to eat and drink with the traditional “Do this in remembrance of Me” lines, WCC tells you to do it in your own time, when it feels right to you, I like this way better.) As I’m sitting there, staring holes into my damaged leg, the pastor’s voice floats in my brain, he is talking about forgiveness. He is saying that before you partake of the sacraments, let go of disputes, forgive and enter into God’s covenant with a heart free from malice. Without putting much effort into it, a list rose to the forefront of my mind: [Lady name], [Lady husband’s name], Nick, [Dude], ME. These were the people I was holding something against; these were the ones I held malice for; these are the ones I needed to forgive.
I’m not a big pray-er. I talk to God, but I don’t like praying in front of people and get nervous when asked. My prayers often include language not suitable for children and usually meant for a direct me-God audience. That morning, I didn’t pray in the typical sense, I just repeated that list over and over in my head, imagining their names getting smaller and smaller with each repetition until they were white blurs against the black blankness of my thoughts. I wasn’t held rapt for the rest of the sermon, my mind wandered in and out, but one of the times it wandered in, Chris uttered the phrase “shun those that would cause discord”. He was speaking about the need we have, as believers, as humans, to distance ourselves from those who would create trouble and drama. It stay away from those who feed on dissension, who thrive on strife, who only feel better when they’re putting others down. It really hit me hard.
Everything I had been feeling about [Lady name] and her attack; the sorrow, the anger, the fear–it melted. I clung so hard to the phrase. I repeated it over and over in my head. Shun those that would cause discord. Shuuuunnnnnnn! I pulled out my phone right then and there and un-friended her husband on Facebook.
When I got home, I did a little digging, to see if there were verses about turning from those who create drama and I found Titus 3:10-11 that states: “If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.”
It happened 9 years ago, it’s happening for a second time now. Their own sins condemn them. It was like a light switched on. [Lady name] and husband are engaged in an open marriage (swingers, for those of you who lived through the 60s) AND they claim to be Christians. IMPOSSIBLE. Be a swinger or not, I don’t care. That’s your life, live it how you see fit. Be a Christian or not, again, your life. However, you just can’t be both. You cant believe in the teachings of Christ and think that it’s perfectly acceptable to have an open relationship; it just doesn’t work. I realized that this particular hurdle in their life is NOT MY FAULT. If you choose to have that kind of relationship with your spouse, you can’t get angry about things like who sleeps with your spouse or, in this case, who you just ASSUMED slept with them. Her attack on me was born out of her own insecurities and unattended needs.
In the pasts two days, I have gone through my friends list and shunned a few people. I’ve deleted people who cause nothing but trouble, who feed off of drama and drain others of their love and emotions. So, if you’ve linked to this from my Facebook page, congratulations! You’ve survived the purge. I encourage each and every one of you, dear readers, to shun some people in your life. It will not be easy, it will not be without second guesses, some of it will be fun–not going to lie, and ALL of it will make you a happier, more sane, peaceful individual.