Friday, August 8, 2014

Fox in the Henhouse

We are an inclusive group. What started out as a loosely organized band of women has grown to include those who don't fit into the original unintentional inception. In the beginning the thing all of us had in common was divorce. Specifically, divorce that had left us excluded from the social circles of our marriages. We were outsiders. And worse, this is a small town, small-minded in many ways. And even though we all have friends outside of this group, it was great to have found each other. There was an immediate understanding of what it was like to be marginalized, maligned even. We were pariahs! And we were proud of it. We filled the empty spaces for each other and supported each other. There have been the occasional petty squabbles but for the most part we get along well. We know from experience that apology, forgiveness and kindness bind us together. And none of us saw a potential problem when about a year ago we welcomed a divorced man into our ranks. After all, it's not like we vote on it or have a formal ceremony to solemnize membership. It's more about showing up, feeling a sense of belonging and comradery, and returning. Let's call the man in question Y. Y joins us for drinks, dinners out, outings to take in music, birthday celebrations and is included in spontaneous get-togethers. He even hosts occasionally! He really seems to fit in with us girls. Life goes on. But wait. Over time it becomes apparent that something is askew. The group dynamic has changed, but not in a way any of us can put our finger on or give voice to. Just as the word implies, dynamic means mutable, so there are ongoing shifts and changes all the time among us and between us. This was different, though. Insidious and ultimately harmful. At this point I must admit I don't know the inner workings of Y's brain and must give him the benefit of the doubt. I can't say with any certainty that Y had an ulterior motive in gaining access to our circle. Only he would know that. Just the same, an unspoken rule had been violated. That's the problem with unspoken rules. They're unspoken. In defense of our assuming no need to speak up and make obvious this rule, such a rule was not necessary in a group of hetero women! Thou shalt not hit on nor make amorous moves toward nor make such amorous intentions known regarding members of the group. We are not fair game for you! The problem is that he has systematically made overtures toward or made it necessary for each of us to establish boundaries with him. Which in itself isn't so bad. Personally I am a fan of, and actively practice a principle I call not leaving what-ifs dangling. I like clarity. I like to know for sure if I'm reading the signs correctly. Maybe it's inevitable that a man among women will attempt scoring with them even if the signs aren't there. The problem is that it feels like opportunism, and opportunism isn't a concept you should apply to friends. It would be different had mutual feelings arisen and grown between Y and one of us girls. But that wasn't the case. And now he's pouting over us not feeling comfortable with, and subsequently canceling, an overnight road trip. Sadly, many of us are feeling the need to take a little break from this man in our midst. We are the excluded, not the excluders, this isn't how we operate. The reality is that Y is now regarded as an interloper who has become territorial over the space he was welcomed into. And I think we all need some time to consider what that means, individually and as a group.

No comments: