Thursday, April 07, 2011

Not all FaceBook friends are really friends

The Great Invalidator (TGI) was my FaceBook friend. We met sometime last November and had the following conversation:

TGI: What do u do for work?
Ayelet: clinical social work
TGI: If my ex keeps acting like a bitch I may need your services!!!!!!

Charming. But many men complain about their ex-wives.

A: I'm not a magician ;) Divorce is tough. I work in substance abuse.
TGI: I'm happily remarried - I'm the substance she abuses!!!!!!
A: ha ha
TGI: Will u do me a favor and marry her? ;) please!!

That's just not funny. And as a married person, he's the one who should be helping me out, right? But whatever. We continued to communicate sporadically, and every once in a while he'd start "poking" me incessantly.

Today I'm in a really awful mood. The kind of mood where I start thinking about going to a store where chefs buy knives. I can't even blog about it now. Maybe tomorrow after the job fair I have to attend. But I got sick of TGI poking me, and I felt resentful about his "joke." So I decided to tell him, to get it off my chest and clear the air.

Mistake.

A: I need to tell you something. When you jokingly asked me to marry your ex-wife so you wouldn't have to pay alimony, it really hurt and insulted me. I felt like you were trivializing my need to get married by joking about it in a way that would make your life easier. It felt very inconsiderate and selfish. And I guess I'm still upset about it.

I was hoping he'd apologize.

TGI: 5 months later and u r still upset over a harmless joke???

I apologize if u r overly sensitive and I hurt your feelings - but u need to grow up!

That is not how friends talk to friends. Even if I thought a friend was overreacting, I wouldn't go ballistic like that. If I don't think a joke is harmless, then he's invalidating me by saying it is. Not to mention I don't need to be excoriated for being sensitive right now, when every day and every minute is a struggle.

I didn't respond, so he wrote me again:

TGI: U may defriend me for this - but u need to stop playing the victim and taking everything so sensitively - that is a joke I've made to 30 ppl - the other 29 found it hysterical - u seem to have a persecution complex. Just be yourself and Mr. Right will come calling! Stop over analyzing every innocent comment!

I ignored that too, and he wrote again:

TGI: Hope u realize I was trying to help

That I didn't ignore:

A: I believe you thought you were.

That wasn't good enough for TGI:

TGI: Again - I said I meant well - its not that I thought I meant well - I did mean well - whether the message was received or not is up to u

By the way I spent an hour on the phone the other night with a FB friend that i never met that is lonely and I was able to raise her spirits some.

If u ever want to talk, I'm a good listener. But to accuse me of being insensitive to you for a comment I made about 5 months ago, is not good for u. I'm an honest person and the worst thing is to hold something in for months and then blurt it out of nowhere - it just serves no constructive purpose!

I don't know why I thought I should bother trying to explain my feelings to him.

A: I tried telling you how I felt about something and you blasted me. That's not being a good listener.

He didn't get it.

TGI: What u told me was ridiculous (u should have said it 4 months ago) the fact that it still bothers u now is problematic - sometimes a person needs a jolt to get out of a bad place!

If u wanna call - I'm all ears!

Why would I want to talk to him at this point?

A: You're a very judgmental person. I don't think I want to talk to you about this. I'm going through a very hard time right now. I tried not to let what you joked about bother me. But today everything was bothering me and I decided to get it off my chest. Had I known you'd be a judgmental invalidating jerk about it, I wouldn't have said anything. And your way of "helping" does more harm than good.

He's pretty defensive, as well as judgmental:

TGI: U called me a jerk? No wonder u are alone - please to do contact me again! I tried twice to reach out to you tonite and this is the response?

And there it is -- more judgment. I guess not all FaceBook friends are really friends. I unfriended and blocked him earlier today, then relented and unblocked him. I shouldn't have.

However, I do realize I'm rather hypersensitive right now. I went ballistic on Rabbi Zohar recently, after I felt like he was also trivializing and invalidating my feelings. He told me to email him my three main challenges in life and he'd tell me how to deal with them. So I did:

1. Get married
2. Lose weight
3. Be less depressed

He wrote back:

1. Why? Men are jerks.
2. Smoothie diet.
3. OK, that's the real challenge. And in fact...

He wrote quite a bit for #3, including a recommendation that I check out Zelig Pliskin's "Gateway to Happiness." But I was furious because I felt he was trivializing something that was important to me. Probably the thing that's most important to me in the world. So my response to him was rather hostile:

A: You are full of shit.
RZ: Ouch. What exactly do you mean by that?
A: You mock me. Why do you think I put getting married first? That is what I want more than anything. And you made fun of me. Hence, you're an asshole and you're full of shit.
RZ: I apologize. It was not my intention to make fun of you at all nor to mock you at all. Did you read this part ? - "Please don't get me wrong, I am not ignoring or minimizing your first two challenges, but I personally think #3 has a way of helping with 1 and 2 that puts it in first place. I'll address the other two after I hear back from you."
A: No, because I was so incensed by the way you minimized what was important to me. I suppose once I have disposable income again I can pick up "Gateway to Happiness.' But I've tried similar regimens that haven't really worked, like "Feeling Good" by David Burns.
RZ: You can also find it most shuls and Jewish libraries. Pliskin is quoting from a large number of sages, which is Torah, and the Torah has the unique ability to help us connect to the soul, which is a source of infinite joy.
At this point I doubt we are going to have any effective communication. I wish you only good things.
A: Just remember that I sent this list to you before my grandmother died, and you responded after.
RZ: I am very sorry about your loss. May HaShem give you comfort at this time.

So maybe I am being too sensitive. But right now, I'm an open wound inside, walking around with a mask of normalcy. Which probably means I'm going to alienate some people who don't know me well enough to hang in during the tough times.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

2 comments:

  1. "Stop over analyzing every innocent comment!"

    IF I had one dollar for EVERY time someone said that to me! Remember the old saying...well I have UPDATED IT!

    With facebook friends LIKE THAT...who needs enemies!!!

    Sorry, but I am over STRANGERS, telling sensitive people such as you and I...to GROW UP! Why do sensitive people HAVE TO CHANGE? All other weirdos...ALLOWED to remain...their SAME WEIRD SELVES! Sorry, but I am livid over this so called FRIEND! Someone needs to over-analyze him..in the padded room..with the straight jacket ON! He sounds like a real doozy!!!

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  2. Ayelet,

    My guess is that TGI's reaction stemmed mostly from 2 words in your initial comment to him about how you felt hurt: "inconsiderate" and "selfish". The rest, while strong, wasn't attacking him. Those words were.

    That said, knowing what you've been going through, he probably should have just said "I apologize. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."

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