We got married in May, and I think it’s safe to say that some of those we invited will no longer have us on their Christmas card list! It got me thinking about the value of online friendships, and what it means when you attempt to take some of those “online” connections into offline spaces.
Cath & I have had an open door policy since we moved in together. We like spending time with other women, finding out about them, building on shared politics, or shared interests or similar experiences. We’ve regularly rearranged the house to accommodate women overnight (often at times when we’ve had lots of other things going on), partly to save women money on hotels & partly to pad out the foundations of friendships which have been built mainly online.
Recently however, some of those friendships have become fractured, and some of those fractures have become chasms.
My reluctance to ignore problems or to avoid speaking about difficult things has played a significant part in these fractures, resulting in Cath particularly feeling deeply hurt and angry – sometimes on my behalf, and sometimes because of her own pain. Cath & I show & feel pain in different ways – contrary to what seems like popular belief, we are not an homogenous morph, we are two individuals with our own beliefs, values, thoughts and opinions that combine to make us a strong couple with a deep and loving connection. My expression of pain is often (but not always) anger, and I believe that some women, who may have described themselves, and been considered by us to be close friends prior to May 29th, don’t think I feel pain at all. Not real pain. Not their sort of emotional pain, at least.
Cath was diagnosed with a life-altering disability last year. She struggles with her energy levels & has had to step back, take time out and spend time healing her own body. Not everyone is sympathetic & understanding about this – some women we thought we’d connected with have ignored her health issues completely, and felt very angry when Cath has said “no”, or more likely, I’ve said “no” on her behalf! Some women offered unhelpful advice; “Have you thought about improving your diet? Exercising?”
“No. I’d not thought about any of those things because I am a fucking idiot.”
So to those women – we thank you.
We thank you if you’ve fucked us over recently, because better now than in 5 years time.
We thank you if you claim to be our sister & yet actively seek out women whom you know have harmed us for your own approval and attention; we always knew you were shallow and now you’ve proved it.
We thank you if you recently deliberately blanked our 12 year old child at a feminist conference, because that way she’ll find out that women are not always who they claim to be, and it’ll help her trust her instincts.
We thank you if you’ve been welcomed in our home as a repeated houseguest, yet claim I’ve always made you feel uncomfortable and unsafe, because that means I can save my comfort and care for someone who deserves it.
We thank you if you’ve called us names behind our back, described us as “difficult” “angry” “sanctimonious bitches” or any other phrase you may have uttered, because we know the class issue is too difficult for you to manage.
We thank you if you’ve cut off all contact with us, after months of building a friendship, because another woman told you to.
We thank you if you’ve enabled other women to steal or appropriate our work, and have colluded with women to ignore requests for support with our activism.
We thank you for remaining silent when the women you’ve chosen over us continue to perpetrate abuse and harm to other women.
We thank you if you’ve claimed to be a feminist and used misogynist slurs against us.
We thank you if you’ve claimed your own pain as real, and dismissed mine.
We thank you for trying to discredit us and silence us.
We thank you for your breathtaking displays of disloyalty. We are pleased to know who will actually stand by us, and who won’t.
We thank you for all of these things, because what you have done is show us the opposite side of this – the women who could not have been more rock solid if they’d been made out of granite.
Women who call us, text us, check in with us, send us lovely cards, tell us that they’re thinking about us.
Women who don’t demand anything, who are happy to see us as two, individual women with needs & wants like all others, rather than Teh Planetz.
Women who have been kind, and caring, and warm.
Women who have heard us when we speak – really heard us.
Women who have listened to our experiences & said “that sounds rubbish. Can I do anything?”.
Women who have made us laugh, who have reassured us, women who have taken our 12 year old away for the weekend to give us some space.
Women who have understood & respected our views on class, challenged us, accepted challenges from us, women who have contributed to that foundation building to cement our friendships.
Women, we thank you & love you. I’m not one for Christmas cards though – shall we all just chuck some money in a charity pot rather than cluttering each other’s houses up with crappy Christmas cards?
Send us an anniversary card though – Cath loves that sort of thing 😉