I've ticked someone off...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by klmno, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member


    I used to be in the military, then I got out to go back to college. I found this website for veterans and I could get a free trial membership, so I joined. I put my info in and it shows you others who are members that were stationed with you. I saw the name of an old half-way, maybe fairly well, friend of mine, so I shot off an email. We've been corresponding thru emails about 2-3 weeks- just catching up on what's happened with us the past 20 + years.

    So, she sent me a email thing about troops at Christmas- a poem or something- and it talks about Americans being so loyal. Well, I don't want to get political, but I emailed her back and told her I was a little bitter about the past few years of politics and recent elections (not this past ones- but the ones before this year) but I didn't say anything derogatory against anyone in the military- past or present. Now, her political beliefs are about like mine, but for some reason, she responded by saying that I sounded very angry and bitter and mentioned things to prove how good the military was.

    Ok, so I email back and try to make it obvious that I'm not anti-military - I served 4 1/2 years, but I wasn't interested in being a lifer. I talked about some things people at work say that I interpret as anti-military or unappreciative of the military and how I cringe about it.

    Then, I just rec'd a response from her last night that was almost blowing up on me. Not only was it very defensive, it was saying things like "well because I spent that time in the military, all my education got paid for". That isn't true- at the time period I was in, there was a samll contributory fund- it didn't come close to paying for all my education- nevertheless, I am grateful for it and it did help a lot.

    Then, after she keeps going with several things like that, she ends by saying that if I keep trying to keep on keeping on (this is because I'd ended my last email to her that way- in reference to difficult child and our struggles) that someday I wouldn't have to keep trying because I would be living. Then, about a half hour later, she sends me a poem about kids growing up learning by watching their parents.

    Ok dokey...just how am I supposed to repond to that? I went back and read my last 2 emails to her, and I swear, I don't think they were so vague as to even insinuate that I was anti-military or "above" anyone who had served or does serve. And, there was certainly nothing personal written against her.

    I just can't think of a single way to respond that doesn't sound defensive or fuel more defensiveness.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
  2. Jena

    Jena New Member

    So nasty, huh..? That stinks to be open up to someone who used to be a friend and have them blindside you that way.

    I think i'd respond by saying that once again you were not insulting the army, etc. and obviously she does not understand that intent of your words and that keeping on going (not sure if i understood what she was saying there in regards to difficult child, right) that you will always keep trying because he is your son and the Most important thing in your life is family. To be well and that obviously she is not the same person she used to be and that is sad.

    that may spark something, yet any response will spark soemthing if she's that defensive. or the other option is to not respond at all and say such is life.

    i'm sorry.
  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I don't think I'd bother to reply. Sounds like things got heated for whatever reason. Maybe try again to connect after the holidays and things have cooled off.
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    That's the problem with corresponding via email, or any sort of mail. It's can be easy to misinterpret someone's meaning if a subject happens to be a touchy one for someone to begin with. Sounds like that's what has probably happened.

    She's changed. You've changed. Life went on for 20 years and each of you had your own experiences.

    If you want to stay in contact........I'd explain you meant no offense by what you said (and maybe didn't say) and time to end the discussion. Go on to more pleasant things.
  5. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    Life is too short to spend time corresponding with somebody who upsets you. Maybe she was a friend once, but she sure doesn't sound like a friend now. People change over time. Sometimes those changes mean we grow in ways that make former friendships no longer possible. Personally, I wouldn't respond at all. There's no use beating a dead horse.
  6. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I wouldn't respond either. You weren't being offensive and she passed some pretty harsh judgment on you, it seems. I'd be done after that.
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thank you!! I definitely have other things I can be doing!!
  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    She sounds very defensive and she obviously misconstrued your comments about being frustrated with the war, government, etc...nothing so wrong with that (you certainly aren't alone there!).

    I've encountered many people who feel that any negative word about the war or government translates into some sort of NON-support of our troops. That is a completely wrong assumption.

    You just never know who she has encountered on a day to day basis - there are, in fact, many people who are anti-military yet still want to support our troops, but there are some out there who do not see those two ideals working hand in hand. That's too bad.

    If I were you I would either just send her an email about daily events and holiday plans, leaving your past conversation out completely. Move on and f she brings it up again, then I would just block her emails and not bother with her at all.

    You could keep going round and round trying to make her see your point of view, but she obviously just does not get you or your viewpoints and is now trying to make you feel guilty for not wanting to have an American Flag tattooed on the inside of your eyelids or becoming a walking emblem of the USA! Yeesh, some people! Haha - I'm being snarky. I just hate feeling like a traitor if I say one negative thing about our country. I think it's safe to say that we all love our country and want to be involved in any way we can, without having to be at war, you know?

    My cousin was in the army and lives in a military town - he is always sending my siblings and I stuff and if, God forbid, you say one negative thing about the war or the government, he is all up in your face about it. I finally blocked his emails - couldn't take his narrowminded views anymore...ugh, the debating.

    Life is too short.
  9. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    Klmno: What I think is some people write and speak in a style that intentionaly or unintentionally has "hooks" and "bait" that stick ,whenever they do, in sore spots
    in readers ears. Sensitive readers may begin to feel like a pin cushion with nicks and pokes all over their emotional body.
    In my life not fighting is more what I need to learn. I know people who are negative and baiters and always seeking out oppertunity to get the heat up in reactive emotions in others. Liking to hurt people, or at least being willing to watch and do nothing has been a lifeskill, really for humans and especially women. Otherwise I do not think as a demographic the 30% lower pay rate would continue.
    In the ancient befor times responses to a letter or a card range from a
    postcard, thank you, to a mini-novel.
    If someone touches me in a sore spot, especially a trigger, then I am respocible for weither and how I continue.
    What is the purpose for me of having this persons opinion? What do I want to discuss? Is it important to me when someone has an opinion that I find hurtfull or insensitive to clarify what is true for me? Does it matter if a person seems to not even have a clue?
    Friendship I read somewhere is found where one accepts another person and shares where they find common ground.
    It is ok to be healthier than other people. It is ok to have more refined social demeanor than other people. It is ok to be a just plain kinder, more thoughtful and caring person.
    I like to wait when I am angery or angered by words. When I am reactive emotionally I am not the same as when I have perspective and can be responsive and not reactive.
    Maybe if your responce were to ask about your freinds life and interests the change of subject will help you to remember the things this person has that enrich your world.
    In my mind if defending myself is engaged I am already in an abuse type verbal exchange.
    If I leave anything as a trace in the human experiance of life may it be the many lives I do touch with what may be new behavor for them. A presence that demonstrates direct honest and kindly what is wanted and when the action adds to the joy of life.
    I have had relationships where someone is using the e-mail to vent directly when in person the endulgence is not pursued. And I am not myself convinenced that some people read and learn from reading as well as they
    can develope and opinion and an emotional state from which they endulge their mind (wastefully in my view) to their worst thinking process.
  10. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    It is so easy to misinterpret emails-no facial expressions or tone of voice. It seems many people will receive a message ten times stronger that what it was intended. I'm really not sure how you should proceed with this person. For me, I have enough hassles in my life with two difficult children. I don't need a someone from the past making more hassles.

    A long lost cousin and I started emailing each other a number of years ago. We hadn't had contact due to parents having several disputes-religious and money disagreements. She found me and my sister. Anyway, we emailed for a couple of years and we got together. Then, she started sending me all this information from the anti-medications for kids crowd. I don't know what got into her because she never mentioned it when we were face to face. Thing is too, she's bi-polar and on medications.

    At first, I politely responded with how the right medication, at the right time, really helped my difficult children. I would never "advocate" it to any parent, but it is an option when other avenues have failed. Bottom line, certain medications have greatly improved the lives of my children and our family.

    Well, the emails kept coming. Finally, she sent a particularly nasty article of some big anti-medication site. It was the last straw and though I wasn't nasty (at least I thought so), I let her know under no uncertain terms to knock it off. I also informed her that she seemed to put a lot of faith into people that have absolutely no experience and medical training. I think I finished my response with "stop sending me a bunch of nonsense from a group ignorant quacks".

    Anyway, I never heard from her again.

    Oh well! Frankly, I don't miss her either.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    klmno, don't respond again to this topic. Just drop it permanently.

    That's not saying you can't be friends, but I think you may need to take a step back for a while and avoid certain topics.

    A friend of mine (we're not as close as we were) is very NEEDY. I first got to know her through my writing group; she interviewed me for a book I published and her article was printed in the local paper. I thought she'd done a good job on the article and was glad of it.
    Then I found that she had a lot of baggage - a country girl now living in the city, a toxic family left behind in the bush.

    Over time I saw more problems but was prepared to talk to her since she didn't seem to have anyone else to talk to. She seemed to me to be very socially inept; she'd ring up and talk, often calling right on the half hour (which told me she was calling someone once her favourite TV show was finishing - calling out of boredom, in other words). Often as we talked I might mention that talking to this person or that might be a good idea, to find out more about something or other; she would often say, "I tried them before I rang you, they're not home right now." This told me that when she was bored (ie her favourite TV show finished) she would reach for the phone and ring A LIST of people, talking to the first one who answered.

    I also found it hard to get her to hang up. "I've got to go," never worked. I found I had to increasingly resort to "there's someone at the door," which didn't work too well when she rang late at night. What she would do when I tried to finish with what we were talking about, was she would change the topic apparently at random. For example I'd be concluding a topic about public transport by saying, "I suppose that teaches us to plan our trip more carefully next time," and she would reply with, "I got a new catalogue from the mall yesterday."

    Other things I found - she NEEDED to belong to any group that told her what to think. The church she finally settled into is Sydney-based and bordering on a cult; they dictate what to think on every issue; anyone questioning this is 'counselled' or eventually asked to leave, if they persist in a different view. I got really fed up with her calling me a heretic. Mind you, it didn't stop her complaining to me about how unfeeling her pastor was, and how difficult it was sometimes to follow the ridiculous rules he laid down for her. But if I ever agreed, "yes, those rules sure sound ridiculous," then again I was called a heretic, for daring to question
    I was asked to speak in our church - she told me that was directly against the Bible. Her statements to me became increasingly wild and very personal, of the "when did you stop beating your wife?" type. "How can you call yourself a spiritual person when you refuse to read the scriptures?" to which the automatic initial response is "what on earth makes you think I don't read... oh, what's the point?" (how dare you, was also springing to mind. How would SHE react if I said that to her? was something I never challenged. Maybe I should have).

    Her need to be told what to think diverged into politics (ultraconservative). So if I ever seemed to criticise our country's former leader (then the current leader), I was not only a heretic but a traitor. She would pound my brain and our email in box with her political propaganda (somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun) but if I ever dared to reply with, "I don't share those views, the picture is much more grey than that, it's not so black and white," I got accused of shoving my political left wing views down her throat. If you replied by saying, "I only made a gentle suggestion to please stop sending me that material; I was not as blatant as you have been," it triggered another flame war and more accusations of political bias and being brainwashed.

    I finally walked away, when I got a vicious diatribe simply because I replied to one of her eternal "isn't the military wonderful?" propaganda pieces with agreement but a request for balance. She was really unpleasant; she had sent me the email as "FYI only - you're not meant to reply to FYI."
    That's when I began to hear the theme from "Twilight Zone" playing in my head.

    Over the years of our friendship she had picked my brain for information about Asperger's and at one point finally got a psychiatrist to diagnose her with it. At another time she confided in me that she had a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder which frankly seems a better fit.

    The time she offended me so badly for the last time, she had offended a lot of people. She had been sending a lot of "Isn't the military wonderful?" type of emails that were REALLY over the top. Now, I do value our military, but the Aussie military is not the US military. What she was sending us was originally written for/about the US military, but had been re-worded to use the word "Australian" instead - not necessarily changed by her, but sending this sort of thing on is fraud, in my book. I'm a long way from anti-military - husband was in the military for a while - but I DO believe in being truthful about it. And balanced. There is stuff being sent around out there that is very offensive in how it's worded ("if you don't immediately feel moved by this then you are directly culpable in every soldier's death in Iraq") and very incorrect in the claims made, especially if ascribed to Australian soldiers. Our troops are doing a different job in different places.

    So I talked to husband and other members of our writing group - we were losing members, they were leaving because when they handed over their email addresses they never expected to receive this sort of stuff, it was only supposed to be for newsletters.

    husband agreed to answer the phone in the evenings, especially when it rang on the half hour. And I think she had got fed up with me at about the same time - she stopped telephoning. From her telephoning several times a week and especially on holiday times (during Christmas dinner on a couple of occasions) I have only had her ring me once since then - to get me 'on side' with a writing group coup she wanted to run on the group president. In other words, she only rang me because she wanted something from me.

    She's been very prickly to deal with in person at times; at other times, she's sweetness and light, all the world is lovely. Twilight Zone theme playing again. And now we haven't seen her for most of the last year - she seems to have moved on. No more emails (husband set up a separate in box to handle her emails, most of them go unread). From what I've seen of her, she has retreated even more into a world of narrow-mindedness in every possible aspect of her life. Especially when someone else is telling her what she should believe - about politics, about the military, about her favourite TV stars, about her faith. She has moved in with a new set of friends who are probably trying to help her as I was - only they are telling her what she wants to hear now. If they don't, she will hurt them too.

    We have a few other people who email us regularly, who could be in the same category.

    Why do we keep allowing them to communicate? Because a lot of the time, the jokes they forward are worth it.

    But when it stops being worth it, we ask to be taken off their mailing list, or we just stop responding.

    If a topic comes up that we find contentious, we've found that it's best to not respond at all ON THAT TOPIC. If the person comes back and says, "Why didn't you respond?" you can say, "I choose not to, for the sake of our friendship," and continue from there to fail to respond. If your correspondent won't let this go, then you have to make a choice - ask her to stop, knowing this is likely to offend (but hey - YOU are already offended, aren't you?) or put up with it because there are still aspects to the friendship you value, that outweigh the disadvantages.

    Why is it that we put up with what seems to be appalling rudeness from others, but will either apologise or defend ourselves when accused of the same unfairly by people who tramp over our feelings? Maybe it's because written communication is more difficult to assess in terms of the other person's feelings; but then, we used to have no trouble with it, in the days when we always communicated by snail mail. Why should the Internet get the sole credit for being difficult to assess a person's real feelings?

    We all have friends/contacts who have strong views about something. Chances are we each individually have a topic that would have us reacting strongly. Maybe that's why we tend to be so tolerant.

    We don't need to be rude or mean about it - we can just walk away and ignore all correspondence if necessary; or all offensive correspondence if we have the stomach to screen it. Maybe by not responding roughly, we can reduce the total volume of offensive material being spread over the 'Net.

    And one last thought - if you suspect that your correspondent isn't the most stable rocking horse in the shop, then why give her any more copies of what you have to say, for her to use and abuse by possibly sending to other people ad infinitum?

  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thank you, everyone!! I have decided that whether or not I ever email anything "light-hearted" to her again, I will not pursue a real friendship[ and won't take her emails personally.

    Marg said:
    And that hit her to a tee...The odd thing is, we are both on the same poilitacl side and I swear, I have defended the military- my grief was previous poilitical positions and upset about those who voted for them, as well as she does, if she'd admit it.

    Nevertheless, as others have noted- she does have her own issues as much as I do. I think it's a situation where some people understand that if they're depressed or have issues, they can share that with others and gain insight from others, like we do here. But then some people have those things going on and instead of it being a two-way street, where each person tries to help each other, while respecting each other, it all has to lean toward what that one person feels or thinks or is going through.

    She claims she is soooo depressed, then criticizes me for not having more of a life or giving difficult child more of a life (she has no kids). Ok, I wish I did and could, but I also have to stop and ask myself, how depressed can a person be , really, if they are out there talking about having a full life and criticizing someone else for not having one?
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I had a situation like this. Essentially I wrote an "I'm sorry you feel that way" note that was about 4 sentences long, if that. I think in your case, I might make point by point corrections, if you felt it was worth your time. But I would make it clear that I did not care for that type of correspondence and she should step off.
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, Witz! I just read my correspondence to her (again) and I really believe that it was clear that I was upset when I heard derogatory things from people I work with, and that I tried to defend the military and that my beef was with the politicians that I didn't agree with (and I know she doesn't agree with either). So, maybe the problem is that she has an old ax to grind- that could very well be.

    Anyway- thank you all for the support! She says she is in a support group for people with depression but it doesn't help her any because she has a life to live and she likes hanging around the base (she's retired now)- 'nuff said, I guess.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    klmno, you said, "The odd thing is, we are both on the same poilitacl side and I swear, I have defended the military- my grief was previous poilitical positions and upset about those who voted for them, as well as she does, if she'd admit it."

    And therein lies the problem - I also initially was friends because we seemed to have so much in common. From what I understand now, she "channels" people, adopting the characteristics and belief systems (superficially) of people she wants to be like. But there is nothing substantial behind it, it is a veneer overlaying something else. She learns to tell you what she thinks you want to hear and although she seems smart, underneath it all is little more than rat cunning.

    A person whose belief system is so wrapped up in what other people tell her to believe, is going to seem to blow with the wind.
    Example from the Aussie political system - at the time that Australia sent troops to Iraq with the US, our then PM was asked, "Will this make Australia more of a target for terrorists?" His answer was, "Don't be ridiculous! of course not!" but since then his own political party have admitted that this was not so. Other press releases, things announced, have been completely overturned.

    Her view back then (I have the emails) - "Of course it won't make us more vulnerable!"
    Then when her political party changed tack - "I've never believed anything else, I've always known it would make Australia a target."

    This is not about the truths or otherwise of political statements; only that you can't know ahead of time what opinion a person will hold, when they blow with the wind. And if SHE believes you're doing/saying something wrong, she will attack, viciously, just as she would hope you would not attack her.

    My cleaner is like this. Different topics get him going, but I have to be VERY careful about agreeing with him. One week he turned up and announced he was leaving his church, he had a fight with his pastor and there was no going back. "She is so controlling," he told me. I cautiously agreed, but said that someone in her position needed to be.

    The next week they were best friends again. I was very glad I hadn't been as critical of her as I wanted to be!

    There was a TV show looking at scientific evidence for Old Testament narrative (Egyptian plagues; Noah's Ark) and at one point the narrative was saying something like, "At this point there has not been any hard scientific findings of a boat on Mt Ararat."
    My cleaner was walking past the TV at that point and said, "Marg, how can you call yourself a scientist and a Christian, and sit there and listen to this without objecting? I'm surprised at you, accepting such a statement!"
    I replied, "It is a sound scientific statement. It's not saying it wasn't possible; but if it did happen, it was a long time ago and a boat made of wood or reeds, even covered in tar, is going to decay pretty fast." I quoted other scientists I know who have studied this and pointed out that the statement he challenged had nothing to do with belief and was not denying anything. He immediately backed down and made a statement that was almost the opposite.

    Basically - he didn't really have a clue what he was talking about. A statement had been made which HE didn't like )"no evidence") and which he falsely misinterpreted as saying, "not possible." He then attacked ME for not challenging something that upset HIM.

    He also calls me a heretic, often. He also calls me the most spiritual person he's ever met. He also calls his pastor the most spiritual person he's ever met. I've learned to not take anything he says on board; not coming from a man who freely told me and difficult child 1 that the reason the police had been a bit rough with him the previous day on the train (as witnessed by difficult child 1) was he had been .... (pleasuring himself; "self-abuse" in older dictionaries; "shaking hands with the unemployed") on the train. I assume the hidden cameras caught him. I have no idea how his court case went - I did not want to know any more about it, I felt that even him telling us about it was somehow like a little boy delighting in showing of the band-aids on his grazed knees.

    So don't let it upset you, just take is as a useful warning that she's (at least in some areas) not exactly rational, and therefore cannot be reasoned with. Don't try to work her out, because nobody can; she changes according to the season and then denies she ever thought differently.

    Like many of us on this site, you undoubtedly have better things to do with your time.

    Only keep her on your email list if she has good jokes, enough to redeem her.

  16. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thank you, Marg! As you say, I like all of us here, have better things to do with my time!! You're very insightful and I need that!!
  17. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Emails are hard to emote and can be interpreted the wrong way. If you were interested in clearing the air with her, then I would call her or ask her to call you. Otherwise, just leave it be.