Friday, May 09, 2014

Who is crazier than Ayelet?

I've noticed a trend among some of my friends: they are actually more irrational than I am. This shouldn't elate me as much as it does, but I just love it when I know that I am being reasonable and some "normal" people are not.  (Of course, they don't know I have bipolar disorder, and for all I know they do as well)

So far I've noticed a trend: the crazy bitches are older than I am, single, and frum. Granted, my sample size is 2, which some might not consider representative.

The first example I'll call Frumma Sara. She and I are planning a charity event involving a skill she's accomplished at, whereas I am not -- crocheting. I saw a funny series of photos showing pristine examples of beautifully crocheted items juxtaposed with the wretched attempts of ordinary people to imitate them. Needless to say, there's not much of a resemblance.

I posted the article on Frumma Sara's Facebook page and jokingly suggested that we have a competition: pick a project, she and I will both try to make it, and we'll see whose end result more resembles perfection. (Hint: It won't be mine.) She thought it was a great idea and suggested we invite people to watch and/or crochet with us for a nominal fee to raise money for charity.

Fine, whatever. I have already proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that I can't crochet. When I was a social work intern, several of the program clients were skillful crocheters. One gentleman used to make pocket money while living in a homeless shelter by crocheting slippers for other residents. So I was given some petty cash to buy needles and yarn, and we all got together to crochet. That is, the clients crocheted and tried to teach me how to crochet. I made a big deformed thumb.

Because I was a smart person attending graduate school and providing psychotherapy and clinical case management to the clients, they assumed I was pretending to suck at crocheting. I assured them that I was honestly trying as hard as I could. Unfortunately, that did not result in an attractive product.

I thought it was a good object lesson for them. It's important to try new things but to be ready to fail, to understand and accept your limitations. It's okay not to excel at absolutely everything. I wanted the clients to know that yes, they had major mental disorders and substance use histories, they'd been homeless, they'd been arrested and gone to prison -- but they could crochet, and I could not.

So I told Frumma Sara that people who want to learn to crochet should watch her, and people who want a good laugh should watch me trying to follow the instructions. She sent me this email:

Let's talk more seriously about the event. In the meantime, my dear, please do not post foul language on your page. I recognize that you are trying to show what a moron the OK Cupid guy is but must you repeat verbatim his lewdness? I have a policy that I unfriend those who curse. So if you are not going to be on the chopping block, consider more elegant ways of expressing disgust with idiotic men. I think there must some... No?! Anyway, my number is 718-xxx-xxxx. It is more likely that I will be available in August as now I have a big project due in July. Thanks.

She's referring to a message I received recently from a 25-year-old, which I duly posted to show my married friends what I endure as a single person, and to receive commiseration from my single female friends. I'll paraphrase it as "You are so fucking hot."

I've had at least one friend apologetically tell me he couldn't be Facebook friends with me because the internet censor he and his wife installed on their computer (they have children) blocks profanity. Fine, whatever, I understand. But he didn't tell me to stop cursing.

I am a grown-ass woman, and if I want to use profanity on my Facebook page, nobody is going to stop me. Immediately I blocked her from receiving my status updates, although I'm not sure how much I'd mind if she unfriended me. Honestly, she could block my updates from her feed. Who does she think she is?

However, the crazy light in Frumma Sara's eyes is dimmed by the glare from my former friend Machla. I assume she's a former friend because she blocked me after our latest email exchange. What set her off? My birthday party. I created an event on Facebook and invited some friends to join me. She sent me this:

Machla: Hi you know when it was your birthday I took you out to a really nice restaurant. And you asked for my birthday at that time. (and also Facebook sent out a reminder to my Fb friends). And I was hurt when you basically ignored my birthday altogether. 

I felt awful. I hadn't written her birthday down. I assumed I'd be notified on Facebook. I didn't remember being notified.

Ayelet: When was your birthday?????? I am so sorry! My health problems have been really overwhelming from July 2013 - March 2014. I never meant to slight you.

M: Please Ayelet - you got a reminder and you had asked me for it specifically - apparently you made no note of it. But Facebook sent out a reminder to all my friends. Ayelet, I don't really care but notwithstanding your health problems you've been very active on Facebook and certainly participated in other friends' celebrations. But as i said I don't really care. I hope you're feeling better. 

Whoa. Epic way to hold a grudge: monitoring my participation on Facebook and concluding I'm ignoring her. Also, clearly she does care, so why the passive aggression?

A: I'm really, really sorry. Is there any way I can make it up to you? 

What  else can I do?

M: There's no need to. Let's just forget it. 

I guess I could have stopped with that. But I knew she was still upset, and she had taken me out to a very lavish lunch -- I wanted to try to atone for my wrongdoing.

A: I don't remember getting a reminder. You know I value your friendship and would want to celebrate with you. 

M: I don't know any such thing. I know that I went out of my way to try to make your birthday special, and even offered to organize a group (but you said you had done that the year before so preferred more private celebrations). And my birthday was totally ignored. I would think you would've at least put it in your phone somewhere if you had asked me for it. And the Fb reminder went out to all my Fb friends. And you're on Fb daily. 

You don't know any such thing? After I tried to schedule coffee with you for months last autumn, and you kept making plans with me, then canceling them? After I brought you a really gorgeous and expensive hostess gift -- coral bracelets to match the coral handbag you carried to my infamous birthday lunch -- when I attended a meal at your apartment? Yes, I'm on FB a lot. That doesn't mean I remember everything.

A: When is your birthday? Can I try to figure out what happened? 

M: It's irrelevant but it's in January.

Not irrelevant. I was paralyzed by depression this past January.

A: Machla, in January I was profoundly sick from a medication my doctor put me on and then got even worse when it was discontinued. Can I celebrate your half-birthday with you? 

M: I'm sorry you were sick - but I just looked at your Fb page you made 4 posts ON my birthday. And I don't want to suffer further humiliation of your forgetting the half-birthday as well. Let's just forget it. Apparently you made no note of it anywhere even though you made a point of asking me as I left you after we went to the restaurant. It's not important. It was only my birthday.

"Suffer further humiliation" when I forget her half-birthday? I don't think I will ever forget her birthday or half-birthday. I'm starting to think that nothing I do or say is going to calm her down.

A: Obviously you're very angry, so I'm not going to ask you to dan l'kaf zechut. I would hope we could discuss it more calmly at another time. And I'm going to end this conversation for the time being. 

Kinda like Yaffa did when I went apeshit on her.

M: I am not angry. But if you say you were inactive on Fb at the time, it's just not so. 

Stop lying to me. And activity on FB is hardly a way to judge someone's psychiatric or medical state.

A: I wasn't inactive on FB. I do not remember receiving notification that it was your birthday. 

M: I understand - but you somehow missed wherever it was that you noted my birthday as well... you missed both things? anyway it's fine - I don't care. 

A: You obviously do care, and it's not fine. Apparently there's no explanation that could satisfy you or no substitution. I'm very sorry I missed your birthday. January was a very difficult month for me; don't judge a person by their FB posts. 

M: My friends took me out to a film and to a nice restaurant. 

Okay, so at least I didn't completely ruin her birthday.

A: Are you sure I was invited? 

M: You weren't invited to it. You don't know any of my other friends. They surprised me with it and I didn't ask them to invite anyone. But since we had celebrated privately when it was your birthday, I thought at the very least that you would wish me a happy birthday. But really it's been a year since your birthday I would think you would've realized that mine must've occurred somewhere in between your birthdays, but you just blithely invited me now to celebrate yours again without making any mention of mine! This is why I said something. 

Quite honestly, I don't know that I care to work on a friendship with a person like this. I know I'm narcissistic, but this is astonishing. I understand wanting reciprocity, but there is no excuse for attacking like this, being so hostile and passive-aggressive and nitpicky.

A: All I can say is that I'm very sorry I didn't remember your birthday during what was a very difficult time in my life. I was throwing up and experiencing weakness and other miserable side effects. 

Your birthday isn't listed on Facebook, which is what I kind of rely on to remind me of my friends' birthdays. I invited you because I thought we were friends. But if this is the way you nurse a grudge, then clearly I need to reevaluate that. 

A friend would have told me right away that she was a little hurt I forgot her birthday. And given me a chance to make it up to her, instead of saying, "No, it's too late, it's fine." 

M: Well I am your friend. And I don't feel a friend should ask her friend to do something for her - if the friend truly feels like doing something, the friend should do it. But no one should ask someone to do something for him or her. I would think you would've realized this yourself. But forget it, I'm sorry I mentioned it. Really Ayelet I do regard you as my friend. 

A: Then I don't understand why you attacked me like this. I didn't blithely invite you to my birthday party knowing I'd forgotten yours. 

M: I didn't attack you but having invited me to yours - didn't you realize you had done nothing to celebrate mine, after I had extended myself to celebrate yours with you? 

I've had enough.

A: No. I was very sick when yours happened. A lot of things fell by the wayside. It had nothing to do with you. Please leave me alone for a while. I feel like you kicked me in the stomach.

And then she blocked me.

It's a shame. Even though I always thought she was a bit weird and flaky, I liked her and respected her. She's a brilliant scientist, and we've had fun together. But I guess this is the end of the road for us.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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