Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is This a Good Thing?


by Laura Crum

Warning—there is a rant ahead. If you don’t want to hear me whine and pose some difficult questions about horse blog land, please click on the x.

We’ve been riding on the beach. The photo shows my son on Henry and Wally on Twister and the tip of Sunny’s ear in the lower left corner. Riding on the beach is a good thing My old horse, Gunner, is home and doing well. That’s a good thing. My kid and I are having lots of fun with our horses. That’s a good thing, too. The horses themselves have been rockstars of steady reliability. Sunny even walked calmly down a very LONG, narrow, funky wooden bridge through the sand dunes. And the one thing Sunny doesn’t care for is funky, narrow, wooden bridges. That was a very good thing. Things are going very well in general. However, I recently had a really sad and negative thing happen in blog world. Someone who was once my friend and who turned against me years ago, refusing my every effort to heal the breach (and I did everything I could do), has finally forced me to realize that she simply is not the kind, compassionate person I always hoped and believed she truly was at heart. It has really given me a negative feeling about what kind of friendship/knowing is possible over the internet. I obviously never knew this woman…because I would have sworn on a stack of bibles that she would never treat anyone in the cold, unkind way she has behaved toward me. And now I’m wondering whether reading horse blogs is such a good thing. Maybe you all can help me sort it out.

First off, I’m not a person who has chosen to be sitting in front of a screen much. I don’t own a TV and haven’t ever owned one. I don’t do facebook or Twitter. I’ve never sent a text in my life. My cell phone resides in my car and is used strictly for problems—I probably make ten calls on it a year. You get the picture. But…

As a writer, I’ve learned to type my manuscripts on the computer. Yes, I used to write them longhand, but have finally caved in to the obvious reality that it makes more sense and is far more efficient to type that first draft into the computer. Then, for years now, many/most people prefer email to phone, so I’ve learned the routine of checking email a couple of times a day and communicating with many folks through this medium. Finally, roughly fours years ago I was invited to join the newly formed equestrian ink blog and learned (slowly) about the connected community of horse bloggers. And this has proved to be a two-edged sword.

I really like reading horse blogs. I like it in a way I never liked TV. Yes, I’m still sitting in front of a screen, but in many ways it’s the opposite of TV. TV is big business trying to program us, blogging is the little individual able to bring his/her personal voice/opinions to the world. It really tickles me to hear the thoughts of folks from different places and different disciplines.

And horses are the common ground with horse bloggers. We all love horses. Most of us own horses. But those who don’t, still love horses and are endlessly interested in them. As one blogger said to me, you meet a better class of woman when you hang around with horsewomen. I find that’s true, both in real life and on the internet.

There are some blogs that almost always make me smile, and others where I feel such sympathy for what the blogger is going through. There are bloggers who seem to lead wonderful horse lives or live in wonderfully exotic places (to me) and I am mildly envious, but also very much enjoying their tales. There are training blogs that make my hair stand right up as I feel they are advising absolutely the wrong thing, and training blogs that are (in my view) very insightful and helpful. There are blogs that are entertaining and well written, though I may not agree with the point of view. I like reading them all. In fact, I’m addicted to reading them.

I’ve learned a lot from reading horse blogs, and quiet moments in my day have often been filled with some interest because of them. I’ve corresponded with several bloggers and found them to be really delightful. I also had the bad experience that I referenced earlier of a long correspondence (hundreds of emails over more than a year) that blew up in my face, with the blogger, who I believed was my friend, refusing to “speak” to me again, despite my efforts to somehow mend the breach. This left me sad and also sort of bitter. I felt for awhile that perhaps everyone I “met” in the blogosphere might prove as dramatically different from the person they appeared to be on their blog as this one blogger had proven herself to be. Because call me simple, but I thought she WAS the wise, compassionate persona she presented on her blog, despite much evidence in her emails that this wasn’t the case. The whole experience left me very disillusioned, and I felt that perhaps horse blog world was not the pleasant place it had once appeared to be. However, I kept on reading horse blogs, because… well, I don’t know why exactly.

Because I’m addicted to this form of entertainment, maybe? Because I was/am sincerely interested in the different horse bloggers out there and their horses and adventures? Because I have connected with some neat people and have had some wonderful and rewarding correspondences that have restored my faith in folks I might meet through the blogosphere? Because I appreciate good writing? Because I’ve learned a lot? Because I love horses? Because I love talking about horses with fellow horse people? Because I hope some horse bloggers might try my books?

I guess you could say that all these things are true. It’s the addiction aspect that bugs me, though. If I have a moment, I’ll wander over to the computer and see if one of my favorite bloggers has posted something new. Or if something interesting has been said in the comments. Oh, the comments. Don’t even get me started. I love responding to comments, but, of course, it takes time. I enjoy commenting on others’ blogs, but, of course, that takes time, too. I get confused. I’m spending a lot of time at this. Should I be doing this at all? Wouldn’t I be better off outside?

Yes, I ride several times a week, I homeschool my kid, I volunteer at his homeschool program, I am teaching a class at the local community college, my 12th mystery novel will be released this coming spring. Its not like I’m just sitting at the computer reading horse blogs. But still…I probably spend an hour a day feeding my “addiction.” Is this a good thing?

I know, I know, it isn’t black or white. There are aspects of positive and negative here, and I recognize that. I’m just not sure how to sort it all out. I feel very conflicted, which is telling me that there is something I need to work on. Because I’m not conflicted in other parts of my life. I feel clear about what I want to do (with my horses, for instance) and am able to get it done and am satisfied with it. Not so with the blogging world.

I enjoy writing posts and responding to comments and if I just stuck to that, I’d probably be fine. But I am sincerely interested in others and so I read their blogs and often am moved to comment and all of a sudden I’ve been at the computer an hour and the dishes aren’t done. And the inescapable thought arises—I would have been better off to do those dishes.

The worst of it is when I feel frustrated because I’ve tried to interact in horseblog world and it hasn’t worked out as I hoped. Maybe I’ve pissed someone off by being too direct (my big failing), though I only meant well, or maybe someone has (probably unintentionally) hurt my feelings by their response or lack of response to something I “said”. And then I began to wish I wasn’t involved with this at all.

Of course, far more frequently I have those moments of connection with fellow horse people all over the world and I think that this is just a wonderful community and I’m tickled to be a part of it. And then I sit at the computer another half hour typing comments and replying to emails. When I finally do get up and go do something else, I wonder if the positive emotional content outweighs the negativity (in my mind) of all that time spent facing a screen. I just don’t know (can you hear me wailing here?).

Because though I know that all of you are just as real as I am, and I really do take pleasure in your joy and mourn your sorrows and feel connected to you and your horses, time spent “with” you equals time spent facing that impersonal screen. And I’m still not sure if this is a good thing.

Does anybody else go through this? Do you have suggestions, insights, a path that works for you? Because I am truly confused.

I do realize that this is a very minor problem in the big scheme of things. My life is good and peaceful, I love my family, my critters, my home, the things I do every day. I am a very lucky woman and I realize this. I am truly grateful for my life. A little confusion and angst over how to relate to the blogosphere is not a big deal. But I also know that whenever this feeling of discomfort nags at me it is trying to tell me to look at something. I felt it when I was ready to give up competing on my horses; I felt it at many other times when I needed to make a change. And I’m feeling it now. But what is the change to be?

I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I have had very many pleasant and enlightening moments because of horse blogs and horse bloggers. I feel connected to many of you, not least the authors who write for equestrianink. But I am still conflicted about my “addiction”. In many ways I feel conflicted about the whole concept of social networking via the internet. Life seems to be changing so fast. I actively dislike facebook. And yet, I feel as if I know many of my fellow horse bloggers that I’ve never met in person and I’ve learned so much and found so much support.

And then there has been this one woman who I was once so fond of who has treated me in a way that I wouldn’t treat anyone. She’s a very charming, plausible, much loved blogger who is an extremely talented writer. She advocates many things that I agree with on her blog. I first became friends with her because I admired her so much. In many ways I still do. I certainly admire her writing skills and think she sticks up for some good things. And yet I have had one of the most negative encounters of my entire life with her…despite the dozens of emails I have in my files where she thanked me profusely for my friendship and support. Not to mention all the emails confiding her darker feelings and stories. I’ve kept all these things secret for a very long time, because I only meant her good. Since the end of our friendship I have tried very patiently to let her know that even if we were unsuited for close friendship (which we were), there is no reason not to be kind, polite and supportive toward one another, and I am totally willing to do my part. The only response I ever got was one of the coldest, nastiest pieces of work I’ve ever seen. And yes, I snapped at her the other day when she bragged about her kindness toward all. I guess I’ve just had enough of the hypocrisy. And no, a clean, if sarcastic, comment representing a disagreement with what this blogger said about herself does not make me a spammer. Just sayin.

Do I sound bitter? I guess I am. At least a little. What I’m really doing is putting it out there because I’m tired of inwardly holding the hope that some day I could at least have a cordial relationship with this gal. I wanted to believe in her basic personal decency in the worst way. At one time, we seemed to have such a great connection. But she has a long history of writing folks off and never speaking to them again, so I suppose I should have known that it would inevitably happen with me. As a person who has never done this (there is absolutely no one, in the blogosphere or in my real day to day life that I have ever written off and not spoken to again, nor has anyone else—except this one woman—ever acted this way toward me), I simply don’t understand this behavior. I haven’t talked about it before on this blog because I had hoped that it would eventually mend, at least to the degree that we could be polite and cordial in some way. I had no illusions that we would ever be close correspondents again, nor would I want this. But keeping the whole thing to myself is just increasing the sadness I feel. What a sad, ridiculous business. And completely unnecessary. Will somebody please explain to me what could possibly be bad about my wanting us to be polite and kind to each other? Cause I really don’t get it.

(In the interest of fairness I would like to add that I made a HUGE mistake in this relationship. This woman was my very first internet friend and I went completely overboard. I thought she was wonderful. We had so much in common. I believed we could have this special, honest, intimate friendship that was solely founded on truth. Now, she “seemed” to be on the same page, confiding her life story, writing me many times a day, asking that I always keep writing to her…etc, and I’d still like to believe we were honestly very fond of each other at this point. The only thing I can be sure of is that I was sincere. But there were a lot of red flags in her emails, and I wouldn’t heed them. The worst problem was that we were very different people; I am completely open and I don’t mind disagreeing. I don’t mind being told that something I did didn’t work for someone else. I’ll do my best to work through it. This woman described herself as “not an open person”. In the end she found my desire for an open, direct sort of to and fro very threatening, or so I think. What I failed to understand was that internet friendships, in general, won’t hold up to such intensity, and that this person, in particular, couldn’t handle it. I wish I had understood this then and perhaps we’d still be sort of friends. But in fairness to myself, my mistake was in wanting us to be as fine a thing as we could be, which to me meant openness, honesty and trust. My motivation was entirely positive, but we both (in the end) found the other’s way of communicating very frustrating. Once she decided she didn’t want to be friends any more (and to be frank, I did not want that relationship any more as it was), the only thing I ever asked of her was that we be polite, kind and supportive of each other. As in, you know, the occasional brief email saying “I enjoyed your post; hope you’re doing well,” and “Thanks, you, too.” And her response to this request was extremely hostile.)

And finally, I would like to say that if this gal ever replies to this post on her own blog, which I doubt, I can faithfully predict that it will be in the form of the “high road putdown”, which is her specialty. “I’m the good guy, you’re the bad guy,” is the gist of it, very cold and quasi-polite, and she’s very clever at evading the actual issue and putting forth that agenda. As in those who disagree with her and don’t care for her attitude are mean girls and “malcontents”. She will imply that I am bashing her or some such thing. The truth is that if I could have just one wish of her it would be that she would write and say, “OK, let’s be kind.” And you know what? Despite everything, I’d be happy to write back, “Yes. Let’s be kind. I wish you the best.” I’d love to think she really does have kindness in her, just as she always claims.

As for me, I’m perfectly willing to forgive and forget and move on. In honor of the many, many happy afternoons we passed writing our thoughts to each other, if nothing else. And I still hope she has the success that her writing deserves. What I don’t understand is holding a grudge. How does this fit with kindness and sympathy toward all? How is this a good thing? Particularly when you’re talking about someone who only meant you well, and who isn’t asking anything of you but common politeness—the internet version of a civil handshake. The whole thing makes me feel sad, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that there is nothing I can do about it. I’ve tried. I’ve tried very patiently for a long time. Now I’m letting go of it. And I’m letting go of keeping it buried inside me. I think the most important thing for me right now is to acknowledge the truth and move on, unfortunately carrying the knowledge that someone that I cared about feels very bitterly towards me. And this is a hard thing for me to do. I meant her only good and did many things to help her during our long correspondence, and I wanted us to be in a place where we could regard each other in a positive, if distanced way. But I don’t think its gonna happen. So I’m trying to accept that I can’t mend this. If I need to write more about it in order to heal up from it, I will.

This was a very difficult post for me to write, but I think it will help me to move forward. In the meantime, I’m not so sure any more what the best path is through this brave new internet world. Any ideas on a good course to follow? Has anyone else dealt with an extremely negative encounter through horse blog world? Any advice on this subject is welcome

PS—You can feel free to respond to this post with criticism or disagreement; I won’t push the spam button on you.

PPS—If I don’t respond to comments or email, its because my computer has been very problematic lately. I’m not ignoring you.

30 comments:

Alison said...

Hi Laura, glad you got this off your chest! My quick response is 'boundaries.' I teach at a community college and also volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and long ago, I learned that the best way to have a healthy relationship and be most affective/helpful as a teacher/volunteer was to set boundaries. That means retaining an emotional distance while staying respectful and compassionate. It's not easy to do, but when you let down those boundaries, you invite all sorts of problems for both you and the other person, even if it is as in your case a cyberspace relationship. It has worked for me, and it's one of the reasons I have not burned out. Good luck with resolving this (in your own heart, since it is not able to be resolved in actuality.)

Mikey said...

I think you've written it out, and that helps. You sound much like me, good hearted, let's all get along, we want everyone to like us. Unfortunately sometimes it doesn't work out. It's ok, and I just try to let it go.
I always enjoy what you write, it resonates with me. Keep doing what you're doing and don't waste your time on people who don't fill you with joy.

Funder said...

What a tough post!

If you're worried you're spending too much time online, you could set an arbitrary limit. Read blogs from 8-9 then get up and do stuff.

I think real life friends drift in and out too.

I love horse blogs and I'm not particularly ashamed of the effort I put into maintaining my online relationships. Part of that is just because of my weird modern-day nomad lifestyle - if my relationship with a person is only virtual, it doesn't matter at all if I have to pack up and move to another state. I'm still just as involved in her life as I ever was. It gives me a lot of continuity.

I suggest you look at your ex-friendship like a romantic breakup. You've gotta process and grieve and do a little (anonymous) lashing-out, but time will eventually heal the wound. At some point, you have to let go and move on. Maybe writing this post gives you the closure you need, but maybe not! Just like with dating, you're wondering if all people are jerks. But unlike dating, you get to have multiple friends at once, and hopefully that helps :)

I know how much it hurts to lose a friend. I've drifted apart from some of my internet BFFs, and it sucks so bad. I don't know whether to try again to rekindle the close friendship or just acknowledge that we're moving through different parts of life right now. I think Christmas makes these "breakups" worse, no matter how it happens.

Laura Crum said...

Alison--You are so right. I totally failed to set boundaries. It was a huge mistake, but I meant it well. I am hoping I will not make that sort of mistake again.

Thanks, Mikey. I am going to try to let it go. It has been very hard for me to accept that I can't mend it. You are one person whose blog and life (what I know of it) has been a huge inspiration to me, and an example of what's so delightful (and addicting) about horse blogs.

Laura Crum said...

Thanks, Funder. Yes, I agonized over this post. I guess you understand. You, too, are one of the horse bloggers that I enjoy reading the most. I have so enjoyed connecting with you and learning about your world of endurance with your good mare.

Michele Scott as A.K. Alexander said...

Hi Laura. I know you to be a super supportive and kind person. You have had my back in times where I really needed it and I am grateful for that. I don't think your blogging addiction is a problem as you are totally functional, and blogging for you is kind of a "me time" type thing.

As far as this woman--all I can say is that people never surprise me any more. It's why I love animals so much. They let you know up front who they are and what they are about. I have had this type of experience but not at this level, and not in the horse world, but rather the writing world. And it is sad to discover that people aren't always who they seem to be. I am so sorry this has happened to you, and I hope you know there are many of us who think you are a wonderful and special human being. All I can really say is--her loss.

Cassie said...

Allison is so right! When you write a blog you open yourself to the world and all sorts of comments, good and bad. The big thing to remember is setting boundries with what you share, and be ready for any response. I have a science driven blog and get lots of right-wing comments about how things are wrong that I've written. When I respond I try to stay neutral. i aknowledge their comment as a point of view, neither right nor wrong. i then state this is my opinion and I'm glad it has sparked a great discussion. I never try to win people over or be right. That only ends with hurt feelings and the actual message you were trying to convey being lost.

You have gone above and beyond trying to be nice to this person and the best advice I can give is be done with her. She is draining you and ruining the fun that the blog world can bring you. I highly suggest cutting her out completely, that includes not going to her blog or responding to her. Wasting energy on these matters won't bring anything positive to your life, save your energy for those who uplift you and for your horses.

Kate said...

Very hard stuff to write - but I think it will likely be to your benefit to have written it down. I've never had a close internet relationship, although I comment on and read many horse blogs. All I can say about your breakup with your former friend, and the hurtful things she said, is that people do strange things - even mean things - for reasons that we can't fully understand. If you can, just continue to wish her well in your own heart, that way no harm will come to you.

I am also very conflicted about the internet, blogging and reading and commenting on blogs. I don't watch TV (just rented movies sometimes), and I'm not on any of the social networking sites, but I do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on the net reading and commenting on blogs, and also writing on mine and trying to respond to comments if needed. I do enjoy the community - I ride and train almost entirely by myself and knowing there are others out there does help what would otherwise be a sense of isolation. And I appreciate the comments, suggestions and support. But I do spend way too much time on it, in my opinion, sometimes at the expense of real world activities, and it does have a strong addictive character.

I don't have a good solution, even for myself - it's something I also need to be considering right now as my current time commitment bothers me.

Leslie said...

Laura,anyone reading your post, and those of us who check into EI regularly, can see it was definitely emotional for you. But, from what you wrote, I would say you did the best on your end. You can't determine the actions of another.We often never know what makes others tick, even the friends we think we have out here in the "real world" beyond the blogosphere.You are right to try to move on from it.You listed all the things you know that are good in your life and those things are what really count.

I haven't had an internet friend problem yet but I had a similar problem out in the real world. I, for one, will not tolerate lying. That's my boundary. When I found out a woman, who claimed to be my friend, we had horses in common as well, had been lying about some things involving me, that was it. I was done. To this day I am still angry when I think about all the turmoil she caused me, but I also came to terms with the fact that she's the one with a deep seeded problem, not me.

As for the internet and social networking, I have those same thoughts. I joined Facebook because my sons, and other family members, are on it,but lately, I find it rather eerie.I only have 41 friends, half of them family. It's strange to me that so many of us feel the world seems to be spinning faster and faster,that seems to be a common thread.

I hope you continue writing here on EI. From the beginning I've read you as being honest and a "what you see is what you get" type of lady, which is how I am.

I do have 4 email friends that I've been corresponding with for over ten years. We started as just a group of women who wanted to "chat" through email. Sometimes I still wonder if they're real which makes me laugh. I know they are,but I've never met them outside of our little email group.No horse people, we've just managed to carry on "talking" over the years.

I agree with Mikey who said to not waste your time on people who don't fill you with joy. That's where I try to be these days.

Mrs Mom said...

Laura you rock. ;)

And I've always wanted to ride on a beach. I guess that would be something on my "bucket list".

Getting this off your chest will help- tremendously. All too often, we sit on things and let them stew and eat away at us. While we think (or at least *I* think) it is not affecting our lives, this stuff DOES. There is a shadow there that in time will need to be illuminated once again. You just turned on your light.

Keep it shining!

Laura Crum said...

Thanks, Michele. I'm so glad you're back to blogging and posting on EI, and I hope the coming year will be a great one for you.

Cassie--The problem was that I, or we, went way beyond commenting on blogs. We wrote to each other many times a day and shared fairly intimate stuff. I believed we were friends, real friends. I didn't think I needed to set boundaries or protect myself from her. In the end, she was the one who decided to cut me out completely, and I was the one who wanted to salvage some good out of the whole deal. As I said, I have never written anyone off, and I cared about her, despite the fact that I found her frustrating and I never understood where she was really coming from. And I kept going to her blog cause she's a great writer. OK, you can call me stupid now.

Kate--I have been wishing her well in my heart for a long time. I do still feel frustrated at the sadness of "never speaking again". But I am going to try to accept that that is what its likely going to be. Sounds like you and I are on the same page when it comes to horse blogs. I love em...and I think I spend too much time on them.

Leslie--I am a very direct person, as you say. It works for some people and not for others. But I have never before had anyone truly write me off and refuse to speak to me ever again. As I said, I just don't get that behavior. However, I'm sure that my former friend probably feels that I'm the one with the problem and that she was right to cut me out of her life. No doubt in her eyes I'm the one who doesn't bring joy. I had a hard time seeing myself that way. And I find facebook downright creepy.

Thanks so much, Mrs Mom. I almost didn't publish this post because I thought it might be perceived as hurtful, and I never meant to be hurtful. I was just dumb. But I began to feel that being open was the only way I was ever going to let it go. I love your metaphor about the light.

Francesca Prescott said...

Laura: yes, you've written it out, as Mikey said, and that's a good thing. A brave thing. I've never had a problem with an "internet friend" but have had some very upsetting experiences with women I considered close friends who suddenly went all weird or nasty on me. Some issues stemmed from misunderstandings that were quickly attempted to be sorted out. Sadly, some friendships just aren't salvageable. I had one very intense friendship for a few years that just went belly up out of the blue. It was like, "who are you and what have you done with my friend?" She just became too hurtful, too nit-picking, too disdainful, to the point where speaking to her just made me nervous. So I cut her out of my life. I still wonder what really happened, but don't think I'd have the energy to go back and "try again".

I actually met Jami (from EI) on the internet over ten years ago. We shared a passion for dressage and... Ricky Martin (I think Jami's interest in Ricky has faded; I'm still a dedicated fan!) She was one of the first people to read my romantic comedy "Mucho Caliente!" long before it was published. We corresponded regularly for years before finally meeting very briefly in San Francisco at the RWA conference about three years ago (I happened to be there during the conference, I wasn't attending as I didn't know about it until it was too late). I loved meeting her and wish we didn't live thousands of miles apart, even though we don't email each other often any more.

Your post resonated with me, Laura (I think maybe you knew it would as you wrote it!). It's not nice to get hurt by people we trust. It's hard to let go, but we have to try. I think you're well on your way after this.

Laura Crum said...

Thank you, Francesca. And I have loved corresponding with you and reading your blog posts. You are one of the people who lives (to me) in an exotic location, and I so enjoy reading about your horse life. How is Kwint doing? I've been thinking about him.

I have a really hard time "letting go" or cutting someone out of my life. I tend to be very loyal. I can distance someone who isn't working for me as a close friend to "friendly acquaintance" status, but never speak to them? That's not me. To me it says that the not-speaker can give a flying whatever for the other's feelings. Surely its always possible to be reasonably polite and kind?

As an example, my ex-husband left me in a pretty hurtful way--he fell in love with someone else. I was very sad and plenty angry. I'm sure in my shoes many people would choose to cut him out of their lives. But as time passed I realized that I didn't want the fifteen years we spent together to remain as some sort of horrible mistake in my mind. I was able to connect with him as a friend, and we are friends to this day. It has been such a gift. We both know and have expressed that we are grateful for our good times together. And no, we don't want to be married again. I think what I hoped for from my former internet friend was some sort of resolution like this. Unfortunately, as I said, I don't think its going to happen.

And yes, Cesca, I did think of you at one point, writing about having to let go of my belief in someone I had once trusted. I thought you'd understand.

Angelia Almos/Angie Derek said...

My recommendation is to not read her blog anymore. Doesn't matter if she's an excellent writer. At this time you can't read it without your history coming into your head. Step away from the toxicity.

I think we've all had relationships which have gone bad whether online or in person. It can be difficult to move on, but as a few other people said it can be a lot like a break-up. Sometimes you'll know why and other times you'll never know what went wrong.

Laura Crum said...

Angie--I'm afraid you're right. I kept reading her blog because I honestly didn't feel hostile towards her and I loved her writing. But hearing her praise her own compassion began to annoy me, when I knew perfectly well (remember all those life secrets she confided in me) that I was only one of many people she'd written off. The deepest irony was that I had helped her to reconnect with someone who was very important to her (and that she had written off and not spoken to in years) and now she is on great terms with him. At the time, she thanked me for my help and insights, and then, a year later, she wrote me off. Over time, reading statements on her blog that contradicted much of what she'd revealed to me in emails began to create just the sort of bitterness that I'd hoped to avoid. So yes, I should quit reading her blog. As I mentioned in the post, I'm toying with the idea of not reading horse blogs at all for awhile. Not sure what I'll actually do.

Powers Family said...

It's very easy online to be nasty and cruel. It is just as easy to be friendly open and nice. Both present a false impression of who you are. I play online games and have seen this same thing play out multiple times. I feel for you and can relate to how much it hurts to realize that, while you are the same online/in person others are way different.

Laura Crum said...

Powers Family--That is exactly the mystery I'm pondering. How well can one really know a person if one only knows them online? I was SO wrong about this one internet connection. And yet, if you read her blog, you would easily see how I became so impressed with her and welcomed our correspondence/friendship. Many many people were/are very impressed with her. I don't think she meant to be deceptive (you can see I still want to give her the benefit of the doubt). I am wondering if it isn't partly the medium that's the problem. And I'm back to, how well can you really know someone, or how close is it possible to truly be, if you only know them online? It puzzles me.

Terri Rocovich said...

Laura:

First of all, even though you and I have never met in person I think we have many similar traits and one of them, which could be considered a fault, is caring too much and at times having too much faith in human nature. You have to remember that even though you are a forthright, kind, ethical and honest person it sadly does not mean that the rest of the world is. Even in person, it is so hard to really know another person and far to often people's true nature, when revealed, is not what we thought it to be. I think that this fact can amplified with "internet friends" because you never meet face to face.

I think the thing to remember is that the only person you can have any control over is yourself and even though you have tried to be the better person, it does not guarentee they will be. I am glad that you vented on the blog, we all need to in these kind of circumstances. And I don't think your so called addiction to blogs is bad either. What is worse, communicating and connecting (even when we get hurt) with fellow humans or mindlessly staring at TV for hours watching some brainless sitcom. (Can you tell I am not much of a TV person either)

I cannot speak for other blogs, but we on EInk love you and are grateful for you attention every week.

Laura Crum said...

Thank you so much, Terri. I have got to tell you, if I lived closer to you, I might make a big mid-life change and take up dressage as your student. I am sure I would totally suck after all these years of lazy trail riding, but I bet it would be good for me. Unfortunately I think you're about twelve hours away. That's a long haul. But you are very inspiring to me as a rider/trainer who has achieved so much and who seems completely unaffected by ego. And having said that, I kind of wince. Back to the old, "but I've never met you in person" thing. I can't help it. I still think I "know" you are a good person. Its kind of funny how it all works. But thanks again for your very kind comment.

battleshipdestroyer said...

Hey Laura,

I don't often respond to posts here, although I do read all of them, but this one touched close to home for me. I have been in your shoes before (sort of anyways)...

All I can say, is that while you may need to stop reading her blog, your negative feelings surrounding her and her writing, are not necessarily linked to ALL horse blogs, are they?

I think it also may help to recognize that when a person shares private and personal and perhaps regretful memories with someone, especially someone they haven't met in person, it is easy for them to offload. But as soon as more in depth soul searching becomes a part of your relationship, she may be tying those memories that you now HAVE of her, TO you.

So the negativity and self-doubt and all the worst of what she is or was, what she's told you, becomes in some way tied to you. So now when she gets an email from you, she sees it and she also could be feeling the weight of all that perhaps she regrets that she's shared.

I'm not trying to say that you should pity her or not feel unhappy or angry or any of the valid emotions you may be feeling, but online friendships are so different. Try not to take it too personally.

From what I have read from you, you are a lovely person, and strong. You care deeply about your horses and and your family, and you've provided both with safe, loving homes. And you have a boat load of common sense. Which to be honest, you don't find much anymore on our lovely new internet world. :)

Only take to heart what will do you good and make you more content in the long run. I think you've done a brilliant job of releasing the negativity you feel here, and hopefully this will be a step towards letting yourself heal.

I'm sending you good vibes through the magical world of computers. :)

AareneX said...

Chiming in after a long day of work:

Laura, I think the wisdom shared in your comments today can be taken as a clue as to the type of online friendships you have formed via this blog and others. Your commenters are all kind, compassionate and offering good advice...and their advice to you seems like the kind of advice you would offer to any of us.

I have found that the vast majority of people in the world are doing the best they can with the supplies at hand in the time allowed under the budget allotted. Perhaps your former "friend" couldn't be any nicer than she already has been for reasons we may never know. Perhaps she will be kinder later in her life. For now, the combination of you+her is a bad one, and it sounds like the kindest thing you can do (for yourself and for her is to "divorce" yourselves.

The world doesn't need more unhappiness. Do whatever you need to do to make your own life happier...even if that means changing some stuff. Hopefully, that won't mean that we see less of you in the blogosphere, because I think your input makes the virtual world a better place. That is not a bad thing, at all.

WV: leathol
"don't lick the saddle soap, it's leathol."

Kate said...

One thing I forgot to mention in my earlier comment - for me, blogging has value beyond the comments/relationships that may arise - I'm one of those people who thinks things through more effectively if I can write them out - and blogging is a good way to do that, even if people don't read the posts - I suppose in a way that's like other forms of writing. Although, of course, I love it when people comment.

So I hope you keep writing - I always appreciate what you write - and I hope you keep reading at least some blogs - at least mine - I can use all the help I can get and have always valued your thoughts.

Linda said...

I feel conflicted about blogging time, too. A few months ago I decided to largely step away and take a break. I haven't really gotten back into the swing again. I do stop by, periodically, at all the blogs I follow and love. I feel a kinship with my blogging friends and appreciate their wisdom and encouragement. They're always nice. This gal you're talking about and the way she acted, that stuff happens all the time in face-to-face relationships, too. I don't understand "writing people off". There are always two sides to a story, but some people live solely in their own versions. Unfortunately, I've seen people write other people off far too often--religion, hurt feelings, bitterness, judgement...the whole gamut. I've been on the receiving end of it before--it's just plain mean. On another note--I homeschooled my kids, too. I didn't know you were homeschooling your son.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

I agree, blogging is really about YOUR journal and what you choose to write about. People can comment but at the end of the day, you have to filter out what you want to learn or not. Sometimes, the comments are super helpful, positive, etc, and sometimes very hurtful. I think we all deal with that. Putting your feeling out there, hopefully allowed it to leave you feeling positive. People can be nasty, and if so; be done with them. There is no room for that :)

Laura Crum said...

battleshipdestroyer--Thanks for a very insightful comment. I agree with you. A friend of mine had a similar experience in the "real world" and I always felt it was probably the "answer" to my situation. In the real world case, my friend had grown very close to an older woman and supported her a great deal through some very hard times (death of loved pets...etc). The older woman shared much with my friend and professed undying gratitude for her support. My friend regarded this woman as something of a mother figure. When suddenly, over a minor misunderstanding, the older woman wrote friend off, never spoke to her again, and told others that my friend was "stalking" her when friend tried to mend the (to her) incomprehensible breach. Friend eventually went to a shrink, and the shrink said very much what you just said. Apparently its common. The older woman had linked friend to all the negativity she felt in the difficult period and, indeed, regretted ever getting that close. The older woman felt hostile to friend forever more. So I think you are exactly right in what you say. Its just hard to accept when its directed at you. Thanks again for your insight and support.

Thanks, Kate, I always appreciate your thoughts, too. And I've been very glad to hear that Pie and Drift are feeling good again. I agree that blogging is worthwhile, in the same way that journaling is worthwhile, even if no one reads the blog. But as you say, the comments are lots of fun.

Aarene--I have really enjoyed reading your blog. And I agree with what you say here. I have reason to know (because she told me) that my former friend has had a very difficult life and has been wounded by that. Perhaps much of what happened springs from who she is, rather than anything to do with me. Yes, she probably was the "kindest" she could be. It has been a little ironic (for me) that she constantly talks about how kind and compassionate she is. I have had a hard time accepting that "never speaking again" was really a positive option, because it didn't feel that way to me. I always thought that being kind and cordial, if distant, was a finer resolution. But I think you are right in what you say. I appreciate your input--thank you.

Linda--I have always felt a lot of kinship when I read your posts. I have to admit, I, too, feel writing people off and never speaking to them again is just plain mean. But I guess I am down to accepting that I can't change this person's obviously very negative view of me. All the good will in the world won't fix it.

And yes, I homeschool--its a huge part of what my life is about right now. I find it very rewarding and my kid seems to be thriving. I'm so grateful I've had the opportunity to do this.

Laura Crum said...

Kristen--Yes, I agree with you about the comments. This relationship went WAY beyond commenting--I truly felt she was my friend. So that changed the dynamic. She wasn't someone I could just dismiss as nasty. I cared about her, and had believed she cared about me. Yes, we found each other frustrating, and I am glad we are no longer writing each other every day and constantly hitting sore spots (though I still want to believe we both meant well). But just writing her off as nasty wasn't an option for me. At this point I am simply accepting that I can't change it.

HorsesAndTurbos said...

Laura...for you...a quote I love...

"When people walk away from you,
let them go....

Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you...

It doesn't mean they are bad people, or you did something wrong...

It just means that their part in your story is over."

Jackie

Laura Crum said...

Thank you-Jackie--You are right. It can be difficult to understand and accept. I always do my best. Thank you. --L

RiderWriter said...

Laura, I just now read this and had to respond. I understand so well your hurt feelings! It seems like my whole life I have done my best to treasure my friends, and in return I have not always gotten the same caring back. I'm sure this is normal but I always take it WAY much to heart and spend a lot of time wracking my brain over "what did I do wrong." Reading this, I can tell you have had the same reaction...

And the answer is, you did NOTHING wrong. You tried to heal the breach as you were hurt and bewildered, and in return you got a virtual smack in the face. I think the reason why is what others have suggested: there are things going on in this woman's mind and life of which you are unaware, and she lashed out at you because she needed to wound "someone" and you were convenient.

You really MUST let this go. Cutting someone off completely is beyond my comprehension as well (I know of a son and mother who haven't spoken in 8 years, over a "legacy in a will" dispute, which I think is RIDICULOUS), but I think this woman actually did you a favor. She has revealed her true stripes and you are far better off without a toxic relationship in your life.

I think another part of it is we women (speaking for myself and others I know, anyway) always want to "fix things." I hate it when I can't, whether it's a broken faucet or my daughter's broken heart when a BF dumps her. I think you just have to accept that this relationship (or this woman) CAN'T be fixed.

Look forward and take heart in the many lovely friends and readers who you DO have, who recognize your worth!

PS. For heaven's sake, don't quit reading blogs. Set a time limit. If you want a nice, calm, uncontroversial one (lately its been a travelogue of my recent trip to KY), feel free to stop by mine. I don't have my own horse and am not even riding right now, due to a breach in friendship, ironically. Not discussed on my blog, LOL! :-)

Laura Crum said...

Riderwriter--Just read your comment. I have to admit, you nailed it. "She has revealed her true stripes and you are better off without a toxic relationship in your life." Yes, she did me a favor by removing herself. Though it has been a difficult truth for me to face because I have to acknowledge how wrong I was about her and our friendship. She was/is a very negative personality who draws much darkness and trouble to herself (her life is one long trainwreck) and she brought more darkness than joy to me (I did not want to say this in the post because it sounded too cruel--many will know who she actually is). I can't help wanting to believe the best of people, but despite the persona she presents on her blog, I'm afraid I was very wrong about this individual. Thanks for your very insightful comment. It helps me a lot to acknowledge the truth.