So what happened after I pressed ‘send’?
The first message came in soon and was one of support! And I got a message of someone who was rather confused by the whole situation. Well, I was still confused, too! And a message came in in which I was encouraged to stand and fight. But I said I needed to do enough of that at work and didn’t want to do too much fighting in my spare time. That was understood. And I had had a phone call. And another message of support! All these meant a lot. It’s always nice to get an uplifting message, but when you know anonymous adversaries are rallying people against you out of sight, it means even more if people let you know they care!
But that was it by the time I left the office. Five people. And guess what the demographic was. All women (yes I know, that's barely throngs, but still!) had responded! And the men who had were 1) a chap who lives far away and doesn't attend very often and 2) a bloke whose wife it was who had contacted me, but who wished me all the best through her. The mail had been sent to twelve people. I didn’t expect anything from David
or Anonymous Person (whoever it was); I had only included the former so
as to do everything in broad daylight. I didn’t like his sneaky tactics
and refused to copy them! But this meant there still were quite some regulars who were not willing to even send a small and polite message of
goodbye. That hurt. After six years? Maybe they were rather influenced
by David and Co, but really, was whatever it was I stood accused of (and
trialled, and found guilty, in one fell swoop) so unspeakably awful
they couldn’t at least acknowledge the times before things went sour and
just say bye? At least this told me I had made the right call. I
clearly had to leave this lot behind!
To my relief, I later that day got another message, and two days later another one. From regulars. Both positive (although I didn't expect any negative ones). So at least a majority had shown kindness. That still left two who were outright enemies and three who had shown no sign of caring. Five out of twelve is still considerable! And I know, maybe these three are, unbeknownst to me, hiking the Kalahari and not in email contact or something and they will come out of the woodwork some day. But being faced with an anonymous enemy makes paranoid! What else is happening behind my back? I had quite felt faced with an amorphous mob that was willing to take some anonymous person's word for it that I was too despicable to join ThursdayNighter trips and too disgusting to send an email to. It hadn't done much for my sleep at night, or for my effectiveness at work. And especially the former was worrying; I had an epic trip ahead and I have a tendency to fall ill over Christmas; starting my trip weakened by lack of sleep wouldn't be great. But what to do.
I was also a bit disappointed, to be honest, that no messages came in saying anything along the lines of 'Hang on, I don't think a single individual should have the power to boot someone out of the ThursdayNighters. Especially not on the basis of an anonymous complaint!' Because well, maybe there is consensus among the non-mailers that it is absolutely terrible what I've done, but that doesn't automatically mean it was dealt with correctly. A suspected murderer will be brought to trial! Not just thrown in jail on the basis of one anonymous witness statement. As well, I think everybody else now carries David's approval so I don't think he will pull this trick again, but you never know who next might say or do something that he or Anonymous Person don't like.
I also think that the world is polarised enough as it is. If you disagree with someone, especially someone that you have got along with fine, then I think the best way to deal with that is start a dialogue. Try to make them see your point of view, be open to theirs, and then see if maybe you can each adjust so you get along better afterwards. It’s what I tried to do when the initial event took place! It was scary to tell literally everyone how hurt I had felt as it feels (and clearly is) vulnerable. But if it works you’ve brought people together! And booting people out without discussion is a guaranteed path to the opposite. Did I manage to increase harmony within the ThursdayNighters? No. But I tried! There’s no trying here. But well, that is something I will have to let go. One has to pick one's fights this one is not mine anymore.
By Saturday (the chronology of this blog is going to pots, but so be it) I felt like I was my usual self again. Being able to think of other things too, and the stone on my stomach gone. Good! Nobody benefits from me dwelling on this, least of all myself. And now I could start this new phase properly, and try to make the most of these shiny new Thursday Nights.