I've mentioned how much I hate feelings, right? Even at 4.5 years of sobriety, my reaction to the onset of an unpleasant feeling is similar to suddenly realizing there's a tarantula on my face. GET IT OFF ME GET IT OFF ME GET IT OFF ME, with some possible arm flailing.
It just doesn't seem fair that you can be walking along, minding your own business, then something bad happens and boom -- you're totally ambushed by this horrible FEELING that takes over and doesn't let go until it's good and ready, for days, even weeks sometimes! It's been almost two weeks since the incident I'm writing about and I've still got these damn feelings reverberating around in the aftermath. Like, can I live?
Initially, I didn't want to exacerbate the situation by writing about it, but I've eaten so many donuts since this happened and I still feel horrible, so I'm taking a shot at processing it the way I best process things: by talking to my best friends the xoJane commenters.
So here's what happened:
I went to an event a few weeks ago where I expected to see a lot of former colleagues and people working in my industry. At first it was great. I was totally excited to to be OUT! At NIGHT! like some kind of wanton childless woman and I was buzzed on Diet Cokes. I saw lots of people I knew and everything was going pleasantly until I rounded a corner and found myself directly in front of one particular group of women.
One of the women in the group was someone that I had once been very close to, who cut me off without explanation a few years ago. I'm so dense it actually took me a few years to realize that she wasn't responding to my sporadic emails because she DOESN'T LIKE ME ANYMORE, not because she's just so busy.
Since I was a pretty unsavory person up until I got sober 4 years ago, I figured I'd probably done something shitty to cause the rift, even if I couldn't remember exactly what. I sent a sincere email explaining that I wasn't sure what had happened between us, but that if I'd done anything to offend her, I'd love to know what it is and to try to make amends for it. I thanked her for what a good friend she'd been to me and for the positive influence she'd had on my life. She sent back a one-line email that made it clear she wasn't interested in talking to me further, and I figured I just had to write that relationship off for now.
I probably would have been too scared to approach this woman if she'd been alone. But since she was standing in a group with 2 other women I knew, I figured it was safe to direct a civil hello toward the whole group.
NOTHING. Not a word. They iced me out completely. I may as well have been invisible.
Like an idiot, I pressed on and placed my hand on the shoulder of one of the women I thought I was friends with to get her attention.
"Hey, how ARE you?" I blathered cheerfully. "I haven't seen you in a million years."
She looked uncomfortable and answered my queries in monotone without making eye contact. I still didn't get it, and kept attempting to force small talk, filling her in about the goings-on in my life and asking about hers. She mentioned she had become a mom since I'd last seen her, so I asked to see a picture of her child. (You know how I feel about pictures of people's babies.)
For a moment she grasped lamely at her clutch as if she was going to get her phone out, then tucked it back under her arm, looked me in the eye and said, "You know what? I really can't be bothered to get it out right now."
This time I got the message.
I glanced over at the other two women in the group, still patently ignoring me, said "OK. Bye," and beat a hasty retreat. I left the party shortly afterward.
But the whole incident hasn't stopped bothering me. I let it ruin the rest of my evening, then I woke up the next morning feeling like I'd been run over emotionally by a truck.
I still don't know if I did something to warrant their dislike, but I can't imagine much that a friend could have done to me that I wouldn't deign to have a civil two-minute conversation with them if they approached me at a party. I mean, these are grown women with children.
And honestly, after having done everything in my power to set things right, I'm beginning to suspect I didn't do anything at all. That the issue is instead with my public persona, or what I write, or the fact that one of them interviewed for the job I currently hold. Their behavior is childish and irrational, so maybe the reasons for it are too.
Mostly I'm just shocked that this kind of thing is still happening in the adult world. I know I'm probably still reeling from it because of my past -- I was severely bullied as a child, and those girls treating me that way put me emotionally right back in the place of being systematically tortured for a decade by kids who pelted me with half-empty soda bottles and followed me home yelling "Lardass!" I truly believed I left that kind of behavior in middle school.
I guess I was naive. Has anyone else ever been blatantly mean-girled by other adult women? Should I become one of those woman who is all, "This is why I'm not friends with girls!" Just kidding, those women creep me out -- my female friendships have saved my ass a million times over. But how do you just get over it when something upsetting happens? I HATE FEELINGS!!!