Thursday, November 19, 2009

How Quickly They Forget

Grams has had it with "the mean girls." You remember "the mean girls" from junior high and high school. The one's who were always part of the "in crowd" and always thought they were a little bit better than everyone else. They were often bullies and had something unkind or nasty to say about anyone who was different. There was even a movie called "Mean Girls." It's tag line was "Watch your back."

Oh, I've known "mean girls" all my life. In high school, we called their little groups "cliques." Years later in the work world, they were referred to as "the A-Team." But my most recent run in with the "mean girls" has been on an internet message board and on Facebook.

For more than three years now, Grams has been active on an internet message board for people who have had weight loss surgery. The common threads for membership are that most or all of us have been morbidly obese at some point in our lives and have opted to have weight loss surgery of one kind or another and most of us live or have lived in the State of Texas. This message board has a reputation as being one of the best and most supportive boards around. And I would like to give credit where credit is due ... they were extremely supportive of me when my mother was dying and my husband was gravely ill.

Active participation in a support group is an integral part of recovery from morbid obesity. Most of us didn't get morbidly obese simply by overeating. There are many underlying issues that must be dealt with. Often there is transfer of addiction from food to alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. My doctor's support group only meets once a month in Corpus Christi, so I found this online support to be of great value as I was preparing for my surgery and learning how to live the post-surgical life to be successful at maintaining my new lower weight and healthier lifestyle. I have received a great deal of very valuable guidance, advice and instruction from my "friends" on said message board. I also like to think that I have provided valuable advice and guidance to "newbies" on the board as a way of "paying it forward."

I said all that to say this ... lately the tenor of many on that message board has become nasty. Some of the women on this board have been covertly snipey and nasty to other members ... on a regular basis. Some of it is not so covert. And, unfortunately, this nastiness has migrated to the same group of friends who interact on Facebook. They refer to it as "stirring the pot."

Whatever happened to tolerance and understanding? The particular person that the most recent "pot stirring" has been directed at is going through a rough time. While I would concur that she's probably too involved in the lives of her adult children, I don't see any reason to be so unkind to her. Maybe she hasn't handled these problems the way others would have, but she has been kind and supportive to many who are on this journey. But, because they seem to think she has too many complaints, they are intolerant and unkind. They talk about her in veiled terms and give her sarcastic advice to pass on to her adult children. Didn't their mother's teach them "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?"

Because of this, Grams has mostly stopped posting on the message board. I still visit once or twice a day to catch up on recent posts, but I rarely post, because I don't enjoy what's going on. That's not good for me because I have learned so much there. And it's not good for others because I have valuable experience and advice of my own to share.

I would think that these formerly obese individuals might remember how it felt to be left out and not part of the group. I feel sure that sometime in their collective pasts they must have been on the receiving end of such an exchange. Surely they must have experienced some of the feelings of being outcast that most morbidly obese people have experienced. How quickly they have forgotten! Shame on them! And ... shame on me for not calling them on this behavior and standing up for a person who was being made fun of and bullied.

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