Saturday, March 7, 2015

Women - The Lovely and The Horrid

an earlier version originally posted at Jungle Red 3/1/2015

All in all, I think I'm a pretty positive person.

I'm pretty happy with my life, most times. We all, of course, have those times that are trying, or sad, or just damned hard. We all handle those times differently, as we should. We own them and they're ours to do with what we can.

But. If you know me, you also know I get angry and tend to speak my mind about the things that I see as injustices. This piece was prompted by an email I received from a young woman I've gotten to know through the internet. She read "Whimsey," sent me a very nice email about how much she enjoyed it, and we've exchanged the occasional note over the past couple of years. I'm going to call her Jane.

Jane confided in me that she had been writing since she was quite young and was working on a manuscript. She asked if there were books about writing that I would recommend, and it's just been that sort of on-line relationship - not "friends," but "friendly." And I like her.

But a couple weeks ago I received a note from her that broke my heart.

Jane had shared some of her writing with a close friend who proceeded to ridicule her efforts, and then told her she was delusional if she thought she was ever going to be an author.

Jane was crushed, of course. Hurt, of course. And her self-confidence shattered.

When she told me about this incident, she asked if I had ever had something similar happen and you know, I had to admit that yes, I had.

Without going into all that, when Jane asked me what would I do, my advice was to keep writing, of course. And to write about this. This heartbreak - write about the hurt. Write it out. And I sent her a copy of Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art Speech" book.

I did not tell her we should perhaps look into hiring a hitman.

In the meantime, I have fretted about Jane and the fact that she's had her heart broken by a "friend." And, I knew I had to write it out, just like I had advised her to do. This is the sort of thing that breaks my heart and makes me crazy. What is with someone who is capable of hurting someone this way?

So, I vent. I vent by writing. It's the way I've vented since forever. I know you know exactly what I mean, and I'm betting most of you do the same thing. Write it out. Getting the bad things out by letting the feelings flow onto paper. It is amazingly cathartic. And not at all surprising that therapists will encourage their patients to do this very thing.

And in case you haven't figured it out yet, there's a rant coming as I write it out.

During her keynote speech at the "Celebrating Inspiration" luncheon with the WNBA's All-Decade Team in 2006, Madeleine Albright said:

“There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."

It struck a chord with women.

It certainly struck a chord with this woman.

It's a sentiment I try to live. Something I believe in. Something I love, admire and respect in other women who also embrace this attitude in their life's creed.


Being the pragmatic, mouthy, prickly, outspoken soul that I am, I also believe the statement contains an unspoken caveat.

And that is this - not all women deserve our help.

I'm sorry if this offends some of you, truly, I am.

But here's a fact as I know it.

Mean girls we knew growing up, oftentimes have grown up to be mean women.

Mean, competitive in a not so nice way, manipulative, and the scariest thing of all, is when they're capable of hiding these things behind a kind exterior with charm and phony grace wrapped firmly around their own agenda.

You know them. Or, if you don't, God has blessed you because you are one lucky, lucky soul.

Women who just don't "get" the importance of women friends. They might profess their support, only to slyly undermine your efforts behind your back. This is, of course, rooted in insecurities so deep that it's sad, really. And to be pitied, I suppose. I revel in the fact that because mean sly souls aren't as smart as they give themselves credit for and because true nature will always show itself, they're eventually found out.

I know, I know. I sound cranky, paranoid and pretty insecure myself.

Having been burned, however, my radar is now extremely accurately and finely tuned. NASA's engineers and scientists have nothing on me when it comes to this well tuned radar of mine, I promise. Because I have been burned, and because I know others have, people I care about, here's a promise I've made to myself -

To the Polyanna self that resides in my soul.

I will cast aside the mean girls who grew into mean women.

I will rejoice in the women who are strong enough to support other women who are deserving. I am thankful every single day that I have always had more of these in my life than the other.

I will remember that these women are a blessing to be celebrated. Their numbers are many, may they multiply. May they teach us, so that we may in turn teach others. May we embrace one another's differences and praise one another's talents in their uniqueness.

And let me, please, remember who they are - the good and the bad - so that I may praise the good, be one of their number, speak out on their behalf, and speak out against those who are not.

And help me, please, be one of those who will continue doing what she can to support and help those who need it and deserve it.

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