Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Big Break Up

I've been wanting to write about this but had to get a little distance from it to properly think about it.

Although I must admit that I'm not all that suprised about it.

The effect it had on me, well, it suprised me, and was something I didn't expect.

And it revealed something about myself that I do not like, that bothers me badly.

Last quarter, my beloved book club broke up.

Well, not exactly broke up. Let's just say, most people split, went there own way.

Why?

Because of shady leadership.

"Shady" ain't the nicest word. Not at all. It implies dishonesty. It implies folk act one way in your face, but are doing something totally different behind your back.

It implies something about your character.

As we all know, your TRUE character is revealed based on what you do when no one's looking.

Ugh.

That is harsh, but it is what it is.

Anyway, here is what happened.

Now, I had been a member of my book club since late 2005. I really loved it. There was a high membership, and I really loved the books that we read. I also met a bunch of really nice chicks, who've become great friends, women I truly respect and am glad to know. And I loved the fact that I could just be who I am, and not have to be something I wasn't. I like it when I accepted for simply being me.

Everything was "kume-bah-yah!!"

But, I would say in the past year, I hadn't been all that enthusiastic about my book club. I was enthusiastic about the OFFSHOOTS of my bookclub, namely the journal writing group and the Financial Freedom Possee.

So, I hate to admit it here, but the offshoot groups were the only reason I was still a member of the bookclub. I didn't want to lose being part of those 2 groups. Really.

And besides, Atlan.ta Wr.iters Club met on the same Saturday as book club, so I was hanging out with them, too. Sort of splitting my time between the two. If we were reading a book I didn't find interesting, I wouldn't read it, and I'd go to the AWC meetings. And vice versa, if the AWC was having speakers I wasn't interested in, I'd go to book club meeting.

Fair enough deal, right?

Well, I noticed something else happening: chicks started quitting the book club.

I wondered why people were dipping, but didn't think too much of it. Only in passing.

Because you see, I am always off...

over there...

way over there...

Out of the way doing other things I enjoy doing.

Then I noticed that some of the leadership began to split.

I was like... what the heck is up with that? I mean, the reasons given were that people were too busy to be a part of it, etc...

I accepted it, but uh... these were inner circle people. People who had been in the book club a loooooong time.

Now, step out on the back porch of the House of LadyLee for a sidebar.

I, LadyLee, PRIDE myself on not being a part of any clique... I've never been in what is termed "The inner circle" at any time of my life. I take immense PRIDE in that.

I like the fringe negroes. The sistas who are on the fringe, the outcasts. They tend to be more interesting. They are individuals who tend to stomp to the beat of their own drums.

I like that. A WHOLE lot.

But the inner circle peeps were hauling a** up out of the book club.

Hmm... that confused me. Caused me to raise an eyebrow.

And what REALLY threw me for a loop is when the book club treasurer got the heck out of dodge.

What???

And THAT is when all the trouble started.

In a nutshell (and I won't go into it), there was some seriuos embezzling going on. Serious.

By our president.

Not the treasurer. That chick is NOT like that. She had all kinds of safeguards in place against that type of thing. And when she left, and turned all accounts over to the club, those guards came down. And the money got messed up.

Heck, I don't feel bad putting it out there. We already know. I saw copies of the checks. (ALL that stuff was blind copied out by someone else who was on the account and discovered the craziness).

And it was some ol' bootleg craziness: writing a check to others and they cash it.

I don't know WHAT that was about. WOW. That's that OLD SCHOOL embezzlement type scheme right there.

And to top it off... It's really daunting to see book club funds being used to pay Comcast and water bills, too. Really.

(I NEVER knew one could owe Comcast 500 dollars. Never. WOW).

Now I can't judge folks. Just stating the facts.

When you come up on hard times, you do what you gotta do. That sometimes includes cheating folks. It sometimes includes buckling down and doing the hard honest work to get back on track.

The latter is harder than the former.

But.

There are some laws out here one just can't get around.

(I know, because I have tried. Just like everybody.)

That law is:

Your mess will find you out.

Period.

Parliament alluded to it best in their song "One Nation under a Groove":

You can't get over it. You can't get under it. You can't get around it.

You just can't.

Baby... I have tried. It is impossible.

Whatever is done in the dark eventually comes to light.

And let's take it a bit deeper, shall we?

Those bad habits that you don't take care of will eventually be the source of your downfall.

*crickets*

(Okay, that was tooooo deep for you. Let's just stick with the surface truths, i.e., Your mess will find you out.)

Embezzling is a bad habit, ain't it? I suppose so. It kinda snowballs out of control.

You keep doing that mess, and it will find you out!

And I knew something was up when the group treasurer left and sent an email out telling exactly how much was in our book club account. I was thinking, "That's odd, that's a good amount of money. Why do they nickel and dime us so much?"

Hmm...

But it all came out. Back in February, I went on a cruise with one of the chicks that quit the club. We had a good loooong talk about things over in Mexico.

'Tis a shame we gotta be in a whole nother country to talk freely).

But I found out a lot of stuff. We all have done much talking, after the fact.

And it all came out.

Now, I wasn't all that suprised by this. Just the way this person was acting... well, it didn't totally suprise me.

Plus she'd been ducking and dodging peeps something terrible.

But something did suprise me, and really blindsided me:

The terrible hurt my book club sistas experienced.

That REAAALLLLY bothered me.

I really like these ladies! We are diverse as night and day. I like that! And I hated seeing them hurt!

Look, let me tell you something about me. I don't expect much out of people. Especially when little "signs" go up of them possibly being a little "off". And I think that comes from me not wanting to be the center of attention, and not really expecting people to live up to my expectations. I will always be working to live up to my OWN expectations, and I am constantly examining and working on myself. So if people slip and fall, or do something crazy, well, all things are possible. That happens. I ain't gonna bash you up about it.

I'll just be over there...

Waaaay over there somewhere... doing my own thang.

(Not sure if I explained that good enough. I am complicated like that, I suppose).

But this woman hurt friends who were a good ten years deep with her. And come to find out, there has been a whole bunch of lying, a whole bunch of other stuff going on. To mess over your inner circle like that? Wow. Leaves me speechless.

Me? Well, I wasn't a part of her inner circle. I think I was a little too fringe for all that.

And book club is a small sliver of the pie that makes up the Whole Ladylee.

And it was hard for me to deal with my book club sistas' pain. I mean, we did a lot of talking. People were truly hurt.

And I realized something about myself: I am terribly empathetic. I was more hurt because my book club sistas were hurt, then about the situation itself.

This is something I can't stand about myself.

I am usually like that about my brother and sister when they go through drama with our Mother. I get a bit upset about that.

But with my book club sistas, it took me for a loop.

Some wanted to know my thoughts and feelings on it all.

I wrote the following to a friend, and later placed it in my diary. I've told my book sistas some variation of this:

Nothing starts off big, but always small, at a level that, if caught, can be tamed. This whole situation made me sit down and really examine and be honest with my ownself, and look deep into my own heart, to make sure that there are no strange seeds that can grow into something like what happened, where I am hurting people. You have to be honest with yourself and irradicate these things. Easier to dig up a little seedling than a 500 year old Oak tree. That's how I look at personal development. We should be constantly trimming and pruning our hearts.

Yes, I've hurt people in the past. Was it my fault? At times it was, at times it wasn't. I know lately I know I have to be careful to discern betweenst the two. If I am wrong I am quick to apologize. At the same time, folk have gotten an attitude with me because I wasn't doing what they thought I should be doing, i.e., playing into their entitlement isshas.

(I fail miserably at such).

No I'm not perfect.

BUT, I think we all are in, our own personal worlds, perfect.

And what happened with the book club caused me to pause and take stock.

For we all think we got it together, standing strong in a little room, windows and doors shut tight, everything taken care of.

But we forget to take care of the little cracks, holes, and crevices... those habits and circumstances that appear seemingly insignificant. Those unchecked areas, THAT'S where things can go wrong and barrel out of control before we know it.

Oh, I got away with this, got away with that, it ain't nothing.

But it grows into something big... and it hurts not only ourselves, but all those around us...

I don't want to get to that point. And I must admit, I had to, and still have to make the little tiny corrections. Or at least be cognizant of what is wrong, and what I must change, even though I haven't mustered the faith and courage to do so...

For as I said above (and I am making it personal):

My mess will eventually find me out.

Whatever I do in the dark eventually comes to light.


And most critically important:

The bad habits I let go unchecked in my life will eventually be the very source of my downfall.

(I think I said it a little better that time).

So my dearest Book club sistas...

I know you all are hurting. I hurt because you hurt.

But let's continue to support each other. I'm glad we have reformed elsewhere.

Many of you have been the light of my day when all was dark.

You have encouraged me when I was down and out.

You have dealt with me in all my hard-headedness.

Let's not let this harden our hearts.

Let's move on... and do better.

So, I think that was the most heartwretching thing that happened last quarter for me.

It's a good thing that the heart can eventually heal...

And it eventually will.

14 comments:

  1. The Green Eyed Bandit9:34:00 AM

    WOW....very well said. I know you have said exactly what I was feeling. For me, the biggest hurt was my friends hurting. I can get over you doing me wrong because I can usually see where I could have avoided it. However, the deceit done to the inner circle and the most giving people of the group really disturbed me. I just pray that this experience does not damage/alter their giving spirit.

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  2. "The bad habits I let go unchecked in my life will eventually be the very source of my downfall."

    That is deep Lee.

    Maybe I haven't been apart of any "real" bookclubs b/c money never came into play. Buy the book ourselves, read it, then get together for a session.

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  3. Wow!!!

    What u said is so correct!

    I think u and I think alike Ladylee!!!

    Hope everyone can move on and that things work themselves out with this situation!

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  4. I came over here to read smurfy and well to heck with that.. Sorry this happened. I hope you guys reported this to the authorities.

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  5. "My mess will eventually find me out."

    A few scriptures back that truth! Luke 8:17, Luke 12:2, and Matthew 10:26.

    Amen!

    Thanks for sharing this even though most prefer smurfy, exposing our shortcomings, down falls and failures can be the beginning of change.

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  6. I read your blog and cried. When I heard about this, I went numb. Just plain numb. I'm hurt beyond hurt. I am so hurt that I am somewhat lost for words (and this is rare for me -- lol). I feel your pain 200%. I have been part of this book club off and on for years and I cried about this. I truly did. I cried for all of my book club sistahs. I cried for myself. The book club was like my family. It was my family. We were one bad book club! One of the best out there and we had so much fun! Its gone! A dynasty has fallen. Many friendships came out of this book club. I will hold on to the GOOD memories versus the bad. I still laugh about so many things that happened. I have soo many good memories! And I will hold on to the these memories. It is the only thing I can do to keep sane about this.

    Thanks for taking the courage to write about this. Love you Dr. Lee!

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  7. This was so sad to read. It makes me thank God for my small book club. As the founder/president, our accounting is paramount for me and statements are seen by myself and the treasurer and members upon request. I spend too much of my own money just to make sure we can do things. To read this just hurt my heart because book clubs can become like family and I can only imagine the hurt the members felt. I hope everyone can overcome this. Okay, you know I only come out of lurkdom rarely.

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  8. @The Green Eyed Bandit... Yep, that was the gist of it, babes. I just cannot understand how one could take advantage of the most giving, kindest, loving members of the group. I just don't get it. That is REALLY cold.

    Yes, I hope it doesn't change them. That would be the true travesty.

    @That Southern Black Gal... Well, that statement is true. I have tried to get around that but I can't.

    Money came into play with the book club because we did outreach activities, sponsored families for Christmas, etc... And I support that type of thing. Our new book club goal is to do similar stuff, but there is more of an account of what's going on monetarily.

    @Dreamy... Great minds think alike, Mami:)

    @Serenity... How come you searching for smurfiness? I am fulfilling my "Food for thought" requirements you have put into place. HUMPH.

    @Believer... I can ALWAYS depend on you for the scriptural backup. (cuz you know I never remember).

    And I think many were ready for a change when things were exposed. Our new bookclub is much nicer. I am glad to be a part of it.

    @Sonya... Oh come on now, Celie. You crying gonna make ME start crying. Me and you have had a good cleansing talk about this thing here. We will all be alright.

    I too will think of the happy times, and the good women I have met who will be lifelong friends. THIS is the good that came out of it all.


    @Cashana... You know, I think it was all a thing of someone getting away with little stuff for SO long and it not being caught, to a point where it got so outrageous that it all came out in the open.

    Our reformed book club is better now. We have those caveats in place and should be okay. It is in it's 4th month, and I am enjoying it thusfar.

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  9. Well said, Lee. It is really too bad that it all came to this. After I left I heard so much more. I was pissed that folks were afraid to speak up, ask for monies borrowed from them, that will never be seen again. I gave dearly because that is part of who I am. This will never break me. I was hurting for others too. And because I am not a fearful person and root for the underdogs, I tend to help them out too. But you can only do so much. Folks have to help themselves. Especially when some one has done something to you and keeps doing it over and over and you sit and take it, afraid to do anything about it. God didn't put the spirit of fear into any of us. Just because someone is the loudest doesn't make them right, correct, or fearful. We tend to hype up charismatic individuals only to be let down when the blinders come off. No one was spared the wrath of this person, and I do mean no one. Some things most of us speculated on to ourselves but never discussed amongst ourselves until I left. Then things made sense. People not calling me or talking to me. Then I get the answers after the "shitake" hit the fan when I left, I left because of how other folks were acting. Hell I stayed in the book club for years because of everyone else and my friendship with them, and all the other things we did in the bookclub. It was fun stuff and I loved being with all the sisters. When I was the VP, I tried my best to make things fair for all, not just the chosen few. But in the end you would have thought I killed someone. But the truth always comes out. I thank my book club sisters for coming to me and letting me know what was up and keeping in touch. I have a forgiving spirit and don't hold grudges. It takes up too much energy. I'd rather have a party:-). And we will, planning one right now, actually a few of them:-). I see some say we should move on. I think it is hard for many because they can't confront the person. Once you do that it is easy to move on. Or maybe they should journal about it. I don't know. As for me, I can do me really easy, it is simple. Just step out and step up. I don't ride any coat tails, got my own star.
    And started my own book club and we have a blast. I have already put out some notices. HELL WILL NOT HAPPEN HERE! And they know I mean it. I have a good heart and spirit but I am no patsy to sit and allow someone to walk all over me, and then smile. I mean I really wanted to fight for folks. But those battles were mine. It is too bad a person can use so much energy to create a mess instead of good. A lot of good things came out of this book club, then the wrong fork in the road was taken. I hope we can all learn from this. If it didn't kill you, it should have made all of us stronger.

    KITA

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  10. I will tell no lie my azz was pissed --and that sinful urban gangsta with her ficticious blade rose up in me--- WTF? God knew I would be red-eyed and cussing...Yeah GOD-

    I was led to ease on out of the club over a year ago--I was bored -- and my antennae was blazing -- something was not clicking -- wasn't that deep to me --it was club!--never thought this shiggity was going down --and I thought I read folks well--this left my mouth agape! I had fun and enjoyed the comraderie -- I typically fly solo -- this was my first adult "female bonding" foray -- and I loved it! Met some REALLY cool chicks! Cool Chicks that read books and had fun doing it!

    My bonding scared the mess out of my family! I was doing things with other women! All eyes bucked! How 'bout they didn't know I wasn't going to meetings for over a year! That is the profound impact the club had on me.

    I'm never an inner circle gal -- I fly SOLO--so somethings I thought weird--but some folks need a tight circle of Bff's -- I didn't--but can appreciate everyone--so I didn't bother me--again it was a club!

    This bothered me --so much I talked about it for weeks with the family --you would have thought I lossed a close relative!

    Mad, sad, empathetic --but most of all forgiving...if a person could stoop this low--they need all the love and forgiveness we can must...

    ALL will be well!

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  11. @Cyncere and Kita... Well homies, I am glad you got a chance to air your feelings here. I didn't mean to stir the old feelings up again, as we are all trying to get past this. Again, I hope this doesn't change us. Especially Kita... you are one of the most giving kindest ladies I know. I was hoping that this wouldn't break your spirt. And from our time on the cruise, you seem to be the same. I am happy about that.

    Cynt, we are fringe sistas, i.e., two chicks who are liable to shank suckas. You the only person I know who is funnier than me, lol, and please don't let this change your female bonding, chick! Because you were doing good!

    Overall, the best thing that came out of this is that we all really liked each other... and a bunch of mess didn't kill off the friendships created through the group. They are stronger than ever. And that's a good thing!

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  12. WOW! Well said, Lee. I'm sorry you ladies had to go throught that. I hope all of you ladies are able to heal from this.

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  13. WOW is right. That's too bad for you ladies who were doing the right thing, I hope you all heal from this as well. There's a lesson in that experience somewhere.

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  14. Dang! That is beyond rough. I'm so sorry that this happened to such a wonderful bunch of ladies. I'll never forget all the fun I had with all of you at the retreat. You and I shared a ride and had great talks about writing. My prayers are with all of you.

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Slap the *crickets* out the way, kindly step up to the mike, and SAY something!!