A Sudden Sense of Reeling
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Curves.
It was one thing to have the recent online attacks, the vicious ones focusing on my religion, confirmed today as coming from a woman I worked side by side with and considered a trusted friend…years ago. We’ve grown apart. Her recent shenanigans don’t hurt—I’m agitated but I’m relieved to discover this now before partnering on future business projects or volunteer work with her and wasting my time and money. But we were friends years ago and not recently, and she really has no clue what’s happened in my life over the past five or more years.
By the end of the work day, my mind’s been chugging along, processing things while I carried on my normal workday. Something very old and unexpected bubbled up during the day, and now? Now I’m pissed.
When you get a good review on a book, you feel validated. Then you forget about it.
Get a bad review and you remember every word.
Even years later. I think most writers are like that. Yes, it’s just one opinion, but you so want everyone to love your baby and call it pretty.
But this happened a long time ago.
When some of my first book reviews showed up online, there were two that troubled me, mainly because they were downright mean. One ridiculed my beliefs even though the book had nothing to do with spirituality. The other clearly hadn’t read the book and focused on elements in the online cover blurb and drew conclusions about the story that were wrong—which reading the first few pages would have answered.
The reviews were prominently posted. I remember reading them and wondering who I’d pissed off because they were out-of-line mean…and yes, some reader- reviewers can be quite mean, but this really set the standard in those days. Both reviews were anonymous and used similar language that told me they were by the same person, and by a fellow writer. There are certain terms that readers just don’t use, but writers who are used to critiquing or judging contests certainly do.
Those terms stuck in my head. So did another phrase I’ve rarely heard in my life, but was prominent in the re- views.
Today I seemed to dip back in time, to years ago, in a rather sudden meditation that was more of a flash of memory mixed with Etheric interplay. I was sitting in a room with this woman and others, listening to her talk, listening to her use writer terminology, the same as in those reviews. I specifically remember this. As she was talking, not facing me, a watermark of those old reviews played behind her like a faded, waving flag. The conversation shifted to a bit of gossip about someone she disliked and in response to the news of this maligned person, she uttered her trademarked phrase that she saved for anyone she truly disliked. Except when she said it, she turned and looked directly at me in this impromptu meditation, as if she could see me back in time with her.
The same usual phrase in those reviews.
The words jarred me out of my meditative flash and I went reeling backward in my chair. I was so stunned. Of course. I used to hear that phrase from her all the time, yet when the mean reviews showed up, I never connected them with her. Why would I? She was a friend. We sat across the table from each other on a regular basis and shared ideas and efforts.
But with the end of the day comes the realization that she badmouthed me often, to friends, to strangers, to people online. I now understand little tidbits people tried to warn me about over the years but they all backed off when I mentioned that this woman was in my circle of friends. Maybe they knew I wouldn’t believe them.
I’m wondering now if she disliked me from the first time we ever met and agreed to work together or if it started only when our religious beliefs diverged.
But what pisses me off is not that she’s declared war on me and my like-minded kind in a public but anonymous way, but that she was already actively engaged in guerilla tactics so many years ago when I was working by her side and always gave her any help she asked for, even if her frequent asking was sometimes enough to be a joke in my family. I guess I expect such tactics from people who don’t like me or even from people I’ve grown apart from, but not from people I called friends, during the time they called me a friend to my face.
This a friendship that I thought had quietly slipped away over the years. I don’t regret losing it. It was gone a long time before I knew it, if it was ever really there at all.