Imaginary Friends

Cinderrella's cornerMy daughter, when she was small, referred to the people I interacted with via blogs and social media as “imaginary friends” because unlike those I know in real life, who she can see and know too, these people live only on a screen she couldn’t quite read and in my conversations.

I suppose in many ways her assessment is correct. You can’t know always know people unless you have some tangible connection with them in real time and space.

But I have and continue to view many of those I have only met through their words, and possibly their pictures, as my friends.

And, of course, because I met my husband online and he was “imaginary” at one point, I will likely always maintain that real bonds can be virtually constructed.

Because of this, it’s easy to forgot the limitations of the written word.

As a writer, I try to choose the words I type with care. I am aware that they lack nuance and vehicles like Twitter, for instance, further handicap conversation with character limits.

Try as I might, and being aware of the possible pitfalls, I am still always surprised when imaginary people disappoint.

The fault is mine. I fill in gaps that if we knew each other in person wouldn’t be gaps.

I trust too much.

I assume.

A lesson I haven’t fully learned even well into my second decade online.

I am not totally discouraged, and this too shall pass, but it’s a reminder that my imagination hasn’t grown up with the rest of me. It still sees the world as rosy and resplendent, and people as hopeful possibilities.

Shit You are Just Too Old For

I follow Jezebel on Facebook. It’s my version of reading a “women’s magazine”.

Generally I ignore the celebrity stuff and the under-35 version of feminism, and I roll my eyes, a lot, but it’s not all tripe or overwrought op-ed. Sometimes they discuss pertinent current events and social issues that are dear to me, and sometimes they just express truisms I can relate to.

The most recent example of the latter was this article:

Too old for shit

I was like – “fuck yeah”.

And I don’t know when precisely it happened. Was it a moment of “A-ha!” or just a gradual realization as I shed the last vestiges of worrying about what others thought or caring that people would judge my disinterest or disagreement with their causes, hysterics, manias or general need to be dissatisfied and in people’s faces about it?

What I know for certain is that where I sit now in life is a place that allows me the luxury (and yes it absolutely is) of being able to say, “I am just too old for (fill in the blank).”

I’m not at all sorry to be here even though I realize that it’s not comfortable for those who have to interact with me sometimes. Because even though I attempt to curb the abrasive aspects, I know that I don’t always succeed. It’s difficult to be true to oneself and simultaneously cater to the needs of those around you to not be whether that is by choice or circumstance.

I never imagined myself as the little old lady who calls it as she sees it and I still don’t.

For all my candidness, I hold a lot back. If you only knew what I didn’t say (or write or tweet), you’d pay more than a pretty penny for those thoughts, I assure you.

So I am not one of those who uses age and experience to lay waste, either out of ignorance or disingenuous intentions, but I do believe we’d all benefit more from a world where – at some point – we can lay down the facades “polite” society forces on us and be a bit more real and practical.

The article went on to list all the things that you might eventually out-grow the need to pretend about.

For me the chief thing about coming to the realization that I needn’t bother anymore was that the people who liked, respected, and/or loved me, did so regardless of whether I was myself or a sanitized version of myself for polite public purposes.

I also learned that recognizing you’ve out-grown the need to have a facade of force-field strength meant I could dispense with the trappings that are still required of women in terms of appearance, and I could just please myself without apologies or explanations.

My mother has always said – and it continues to be true – that what others think of you is not your business.

This, to me, fits in well with the “too old for this” idea because the truth is we were always too old once we left high school. It just takes a while for many of us to figure that out.

Finally, the chief thing I am too old for is the idea that there is “only one”. Side of a story or issue. That there is only one solution to a problem. Only one religious point of view. Only one political party with the best plan or policy. Etc.

The adage that “there can be only one” is bullshit I am too old for by many, many years.

And that makes me happy.



Nixon, Harper, Watergate and Mike Duffy

House of CommonsI’ve been keeping an eye on the trial of Senator Mike Duffy, who’s currently on trial for – as far as I can tell – being greedy and stupid.

Duffy was appointed to the Senate (in Canada the Senate is a relatively toothless institution and appointment is based on an antiquated patronage system) by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Duffy was a journalist who’s been lobbying for a Senate appointment for himself since the Chretien government.

Theoretically Senators comb through legislation passed by the House of Commons to find issues and make improvements before passing it along to the Governor General for Royal Assent, which makes legislation – law. In practice, the final two steps are mostly for show though the Senate has  occasionally done more than rubber stamp things.

Both the Senate and the Governor General are historical left-overs from Canada’s British Empire past that we can’t get rid of because they are embedded in our Constitution, and we can’t open it up to fix that because … reasons.

Anyway, Duffy was accused of charging the taxpayers of Canada with some personal housing expenses that he probably shouldn’t have. It’s unclear if he broke any laws because we’ve since come to find out that there are precise few written rules about what Senators can or can’t “expense” onto the backs of taxpayers.

Regardless, the optics looked bad, and the ethics were questionable, and Duffy was ordered by the Prime Minister to repay the money.

And then it gets interesting.

Duffy didn’t think he should have to repay anything and as the dollar amount grew (eventually landing at $90,000), he got huffy and whiny.

Harper’s Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, tried to broker a deal where the Conservative party would pay the money for Duffy, and Duffy would claim, publicly, that he paid the money back himself.

Shady, but it gets worse.

As the dollar amount climbed, the party balked, so Wright, a millionaire many times over, simply wrote Duffy a cheque himself, and Duffy pretended that he paid back the money he may or may not have owed in the first place.

And then it gets much worse. Lies were told. Retold. Revised. Re-imagined. Told again.

Cabinet ministers parroted lies in the House of Commons and to the media.

Senators told lies that were written for them by the Prime Minister’s staff and chief aides.

The Prime Minister vouchsafed for them all and when he wasn’t believed, he revised them himself.

More lies were told. Audits were rewritten by the Prime Minister office to cover the lies and then more lies were told to cover up the original lies.

Wright either resigned or was fired, depending on whose version of events you want to believe.

As it stands today, a lot of lies and covering up occurred to essentially try to make the Conservative Party of Canada appear to be ethical and upstanding when in fact, they aren’t so much.

At this point only Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy have been punished in any way for what appears to be the work of a half-dozen – probably more – people who are ranking members of the Senate and important advisers in the office of the Prime Minster.

While no one is saying that the Prime Minister knew about the cover up and lies as they were being manufactured, he did clearly know the truth at some point over the two-year saga of the downfall of Mike Duff,y and he did absolutely nothing about it.

Except to lie at worst or condone the lies at the least.

Why does this fascinate me?

Because I remember this morality play from my youth in the United States.

In the summer of 1974 my Dad was riveted by the Watergate Scandal.

He was a fervent Nixon supporter. Voted for the man three times and believed him to be an upstanding guy and a great President.

He was crushed by the revelations that Nixon knew about the Watergate break-in and lied about that knowledge and assisted in the cover-up.

“He should have told the truth from the beginning,” Dad said. “It would have worked out in the end had he done that.”

It didn’t diminish the respect Dad had for Nixon’s accomplishmen,t but it coloured his opinion about political parties and their effect on the people who belong to them and run under their banners.

He never voted for anyone other than an independent again to my knowledge. And he despised Republicans, a party he’d voted for since his first election as a young man in the Navy just after the second world war.

In my mind all the hearings concerning Watergate were closely followed by Nixon’s resignation on August 9th in 1974, but when I googled it, I discovered that the original hearings, and the report that followed, happened in the early summer of 1973.

All of the television networks covered those hearings in May of 1973. An estimated 85% of the American public watched some or all of the hearings.

That I remember. We only had four stations back then. CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS. They all covered them at first, and then they tag teamed to make sure that all the hearings were public and available.

People wonder why it’s so hard to work up the general public about political wrong-doing today, and in my mind, it’s a simple answer.

When I was a child, there was no way to escape unpleasant news. Today there are hundreds of channels plus the Internet. It’s easy to avoid things you don’t want to know about even if you should be paying attention.

I was trying to explain all of this to my husband last night and my daughter today.

Watergate absolutely is the foundation of my understanding and feelings about political parties and politicians. It’s why I have spent the majority of my adult life stubbornly refusing to belong to political parties and even unions and organized religions.

I learned from that huge event, which reset many things in American politics, that ideologies were dangerous and usually corrupting. That good people would eventually succumb. That questionable people would become more so. That dogma is closed-minded and will be the downfall of civilization when the historians are finally able to sort through the wreckage.

There were a lot of other things going on in the summers of 1973 and 1974. Oil embargos. Recession. Price controls that lead to shortages. Going without was something that in my memory, I associated with Dad’s union being so often on strike but now realize that there were much larger events in play.

Which brings me back to Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright and Stephen Harper.

There is a federal election called for October 19th. Generally elections here are short – five to six weeks – but the Prime Minister dropped the writ almost two weeks ago.

Speculation was that he wanted to spend the other parties into submission with a long election, and there’s probably something to that.

However, I think he hoped the election would distract people from the Duffy trial, and the revelation that he isn’t the ethical, responsible leader he has always sold himself to be.

He’s hoping that no one will notice, or that we will not remember on October 19th, that he promised to end the very things he allowed his closest aides and advisers to do. To ignore or bend rules. To rewrite them if they had to. To cover up. To lie. To demand that elected MPs support those lies by retelling them in the House of Commons and to the media.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s main goal was to remove accountability and tradition moral/ethical guideposts from the Canadian landscape and government system because they got in the way of people making money. And he did this while telling us the exact opposite. That he and his party were responsible, good people rather than the self-interested and short-sighted ones they are being revealed to be.

Nixon’s relativism on ethics and governing allowed Ronald Reagan to happen, and politically it’s been all downhill in America since.

Harper is our Nixon. That he happened because the Liberal Party got too comfortable and causal with power shouldn’t be forgotten, but it’s Harper’s version of conservatism – borrowed from theeven more than ethically challenged America version – that has brought Canada to the top of a hill that it wouldn’t take much for us to start rolling down.

Not a lot of people see this, or agree would entirely agree with my observation if they did, but I believe that as a country we are in a dicey place right now. It could either way.

But I stand by it. If this coming election gives the Conservatives another crack at forming government, and the opposition parties don’t band together to bring it down, Duffy will stand in history as our own Watergate moment in time. I don’t think that’s a milestone we should want for ourselves.

Why I Still Hate Twitter

Twitter iconI originally joined Twitter because that’s what bloggers did and for a while, it was fun. Like the old Internet days of yore message boards where you met all kinds of people and even though there were occasionally dust ups, mostly everyone was cool about it eventually because meeting all kinds of people with different voices, ideas and opinions was the whole point.

Eventually celebrities, brands and politicians discovered Twitter and things began to change.

Twitter is more than ever about tribes. It is not about meeting all kinds of people. It is about meeting people who think and act like you do and waging war on those who don’t. It’s like high school. The crappy pecking order part. That only people whose best days were in high school gleefully embrace because they are out of place in the adult world.

It is rare to meet new people on Twitter who you will want to still know a week later. I rejoice when I find those people.

More often, I find that I meet people who only find me unobjectionable so long as I don’t have any differing opinions, or if I do, I don’t express them very often. Even more frequently I run across people who make me despair for humanity until I remember that Twitter – mercifully – represents but a sliver of humanity even at peak tweeting hours.

Twitter is probably still the best place to meet and be able to interact with those who are closer to gears and cogs of society than most of us will ever be. Journalists. Politicians. Politicos. Think-tank types. Activists. It’s why I am still there, but the flotsam and jetsam that circles them is sometimes hard to wade through, and on really bad days, it’s easy to see why democracy has had an easy time catching on but a difficult time actually working.

My husband thinks I should just walk away.

“People suck,” he reminds me at least every other day.

And by “suck”, he means people have individual personalities that have been shaped by time, experiences, agendas, narratives and other people. These personalities are more, or less, agreeable depending on the alignment of your personality with theirs. Or your level of zen.

I’ve spent most of my life working with people, which is probably a very odd thing for an introvert such as myself who genuinely finds people exhausting and a bit of a distraction.

One of the advantages to having been a teacher is that I learned how to deal with multiple personality types and their variants simply as a matter of survival, so unlike my husband, I am not surprised when interacting is a chore or worse or when large groups of people in an enclosed space – which Twitter is – sometimes collide.

Given that I am not sharing kitten gifs, celebrity or pop culture, it’s not surprising either that I tend to run into people who in real life, I would shun like toe fungus.

I like politics. I am intensely interested in the social aspect of it and the ripples and quakes it creates provincially, nationally and globally. Some of the politically minded on Twitter are incredibly knowledgeable and worth following. Many are like me – just aware, learning and interacting. Some are watchers. Some are sharers. Some are lone wolves. All bring something to the table that makes the wading worth doing.

And then, there are the others.

Within the category of “other”, there are sub-categories. Partisans whose degree of geniality varies. Agitators who might be partisan but whose prime directive is to stir things up according to their own agendas. And finally, the insane, which needs no explanation.

I don’t mind partisans. I don’t understand it, but I don’t mind them for the most part.

In my mind, there is no reason to wed myself in perpetuity to someone else’s version of reality or utopia – take your pick.

No matter how compelling the dogma might be, it just seems a bit Stepford Wife to me. However, keep in mind that 12 years of Catholic school and nearly a lifetime in the United States failed to morph me into a bot, so it’s conceivable that I am just naturally immune to the need to belong or be labeled in a way that so many seem to feel is vital.

Agitators are not quite partisans. They nearly always wrap themselves in the dogma, narrative and agenda of others, but they don’t seem to have a clear centre of their own. If that which they base every belief and utterance where to vanish next week, these folks would wander aimless like walkers, attacking and savaging randomly because it’s the only thing they know how to do. In real life, they are that woman at work. The one nobody really likes but everyone tries to get along with to one degree or other because it’s just easier that way.

Some have a bit of wit and intelligence. You’ll know them because they have a lot of followers, but the number of people they really interact with, or who share their screed, is small comparatively. Majority who follow these types do so for the entertainment value rather than because they agree with them.

Agitators generally have a cadre of groupies who will swarm dissenters like fire ants and at least one Insane follower who regularly immolates him/herself for the cause.

They believe passionately in what they believe. If you don’t, it’s because you are slow-witted and in need of tedious remediation or just plain stupid – depending – and not because you may be skeptical or discerning. Or have a mind of your own.

Occasionally these types hit their marks with enough accuracy to draw wider spread interest and even praise. Unfortunately, this just serves to make them more shrill rather than more accurate.

A few carry the torch of blind loyalty with a bit more nobility. They doggedly stump for the cause minus the mean girl memes, gifs and snark of the aforementioned. They form clans rather than attract clingers. Discussion are had. Many are likable despite the fact that you never really get to know them apart from their mission statement. Often when interacting with them, you are left with the feeling that are a quota that was met, checked off and filed. They are not unpleasant interactions but a bit hollow.

Last there are the nutters. You don’t need to be told when you inadvertently attract their notice although you often will be alerted via a DM (direct message) from someone you follow. Those private missives go something like,

“Back away slowly and then block.”

Blocking is just what it sounds like. Twitter, like many social media and message boards, allows users to screen and to deny other users. In the Twitsphere, blocking is a way to shut out voices that differ from the ones in your head that your prefer and by doing so, limits their interaction within your echo chamber or tribe.

Blocking is a weapon for silencing, a tool for avoiding thought and it is occasionally viewed as a badge of honour because often – provided you aren’t crazy and danger to yourself and others – it’s the people rattling the cages of the status quo who are blocked.

To be blocked is to know you’ve made an impact. Caused someone intellectual discomfort. Reminded the Emperor that not only is he naked, he never had clothes in the first place.

By now, you might wonder if I do indeed enjoy Twitter for all protestations of my loathing of it.

I like some of the people I have met and interact with. I’ve had good discussions and debate. But I know that I won’t be a regular much longer. It’s not a tool change. No one has ever changed the world via Twitter and no one ever will. In my opinion. Change is what people in the real world do. They do it. They don’t tweet about doing it.

For all its virtual reach, Twitter is a small place that most people will never visit because life and change is for doers and Twitter is about mocking that really.

The agitators on Twitter, for instance, revile those who are out in the world-changing the things that the agitators hold dear.

A good examples? Deborah Drever. Young MLA from Calgary whose Facebook page was scraped and pictures used out of context to try to force a recall of her after the last election.

She was hounded in the social media until it spilled into the news and forced the Premier to remove her from the caucus. She would have to sit as an independent, which put her riding at a disadvantage. Something that no one, clearly, had thought of before they began their petty campaign tantrum.

She could have quit. They wanted her to quit.

But today, she is still an MLA and she’s out in her riding, interacting and changing things because ACTIONS – real world ones – are the only things that count. For all the bile that was spewed at her, she did what her bullies won’t – she ran for office, got elected and is in a position to affect life and lives.

The majority of people in the world don’t care about the pictures on anyone’s Facebook page but their own and no matter how something flares in a news cycle, something else will replace it quickly enough.

Same can be said of Twitter. It matters only to those who are there. It’s a good place to meet like-minded to talk, speculate and share theories but after you’ve finished, you push away from the keyboard and you go do something in the real world that matters more.

Twitter itself is an illusion.

Circling the Wagons

Here is the oddest thing about the closing of ye olde widda board for me, personally.

When the board closed, the alumni site at Facebook cranked up the invites/adds to its page. A group that was fairly dormant. And I was added.

Okay, the fact that I was added is not odd. I did make friends in my time at the YWBB. Yes, I did. Don’t look so incredulous. A few anyway. So my inclusion in the round-up as Rome fell isn’t all that a weird thing.

The strange part is how nonchalantly I have been included in the conversations and happenings.

As I mentioned in another post, it’s just like a high school reunion where the most popular girl in the class, the one that married the star of the state championship basketball team, was a cheerleader and never gave more than a withering glance of disdain to you, is suddenly all smiles, hugs and

“Oh my gawd! you look GREAT! I am SO glad you are here.”

Alright, not that exactly, but creepily close.

Rob just chuckles.

“Back with your besties from the board, eh?”

I had no besties at the board.

In fact, the few YWBB members who I count among my friends are folks I met at the board but got to know via our widow blogging. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be friends.

Like most of my friendships – virtual and in real life – I grew on them slowly because I am something for which the taste for needs to be acquired and that takes time. Instant friendships have never happened for me. Ever. Except maybe Rob.

And I tend to develop friendships with people that no one would ever suspect me of being friends with.

As I recently told a very conservative political Twitter acquaintance (who follows me only because I confound her definition of a “liberal”),

“I have an open mind, a preferences for people who can pry theirs wide a bit too, and enjoy a healthy give/take debate. And snark is good too.”

Of course, I paraphrased into 140 characters.

Yes, I can be brief, but I don’t enjoy it.

So, where did I begin? Right, wagons circling.

Old board members do nothing well at all if not circle up. The founders should have remembered this if going quietly into the good night was their aim. (And they’d do well to remember it in the future if the rebrand of Soaring Spirits includes YWBB terminology, stories or ideas stolen from threads. Yeah, stolen. Really hope I am wrong about this.)

They posted a terse and uninformative message when they locked all the forums, which effectively threw the lurkers under the bus and sent the newbies, who generally have few contacts inside the board (forget about outside) in grief spins I don’t want to think about.

But if they thought this was going to satisfy the GenNext widdas, who really founded the current incarnation of the board, they’d apparently been away too long.

After the shock and the scramble to contact, add, send out the word and help – as much as possible – support the YWBB survivors as they hastily set up a new forum at Widda, the questions came.

What happened? Why so suddenly? What will happen to the thousands of pages of posts? The history. The stories? The resources? The friendships?

OMG! How will people find each other again!

All good questions and – as per usual – the founders were reluctant to come down off the mountain to deal with any of it.

My history with the founders is slight but contentious.

I took them to task about the cyber-bullying, and their non-to-tepid at best responses on a few occasions, and the few who bothered to reply to me were condescending when they weren’t just dismissive.

So while the others were willing to give a benefit of the doubt, I suspected that the founders probably had motivations that were more about them than the widow board or the members because that’s how it’s mostly been since they stopped actively needing it.

Is that judgmental?


But I am just as harsh a critic of widowed folk who spring board their tragedies into careers that milk the vulnerability of grieving folk.

While the YWBB founders may have simply walked away after having picked up their lives, at least they didn’t sell hoodies and mugs with logos and pretend that somehow this was good works. And, thank the goddess, they avoided the Oprahfication of being widowed into a 12 step program where slapping on the stilettos, working out and attending weekend seminars to work that grief will land you in the valley of the happy widow dolls again.

Eventually the idea – a good one – took root among the alumnae of kicking in cash to maintain the board as an archive.

Posting agitation ensued to the point that one of the founders agreed to talk with the others, but the ultimate answer was still “no”. Closing down the YWBB was just a “business decision” that made the most sense.

Nothing personal, ya’ll.

A kind of dismissive, sucks to be you but I’ve moved on and what do you people want from me after fifteen years?

Still, the circling efforts and the fact that I was included (granted that some of the others probably didn’t/still don’t know who the fuck I was on the board) made me reconsider the nature of the board and whether or not I could really participate in the start up of the new one.

I am nine years out. Married again for nearly eight years.

I am not grieving anymore. Even the odd memories don’t knock me off course.

Although, I hate the fact that I cry easily now. I never did pre-dead husband and don’t like that I have lost my ability to be like a stone in the face of manipulating commercials, songs and YouTube videos.

Oh, I blame it on the approach of menopause, but it was widowhood that reduced me to this female cliché.

I have participated in these early days of Widda. I post. I share. I try to let people know that nine years out is a good place. It gets better.

But I haven’t totally hated the reunion. It’s good to see how far I have come in stark terms and how the people behind the aliases have done the same.

The furor is dying down now. The YWBB goes dark this coming Friday and now that the shock has passed and the posts are being archived on hundreds of different hard-drives, most of these people will go back to their lives. Just like people do after high school reunions.

And Here I Am, Widow Blogging Again

widdaI really wanted to step away from all the grief stuff. Widowhood. People who date widows. Widow blogging. As I mentioned to an old friend from the YWBB days (yes, I did make friends when I was there), grief on the web anymore is about selling it. Promoting a website, a convention, a book or whatever niche business you grew out of the depths of your despair. And if you did, good on ya! Do what you love and know. But I never could get past the idea that I was taking advantage of vulnerable people by asking them to pay me for something that they needed – kindness, advice, common ground.

Now that the YWBB is in its final days, I find myself oddly drawn back in to the community. One that I never fit into really and didn’t derive much direct solace from hanging around on its edges. My aforementioned friend found herself added to a Facebook group of YWBB alumnae (and now you know that no one ever leaves high school just as you suspected and probably feared as much as I do). She in turn added me and quite a few others. It was just like a high school reunion. Right down to my not recognizing a single soul because we are all sans aliases and aside from those who really are my Facebook friends, I have never seen a picture of a single one of them. In between shock and venting (oh, some of us were a tad ragey though nothing like I remember from the YWBB’s wilder west days), stories were shared. Some I recall. Many I do not because I don’t harken back to the earliest days of the board’s existence like many of the story-tellers do. And while we reminisced, the current residents of the YWBB were scrambling to find each other off-site and two hardy members were setting up a temporary refugee board. A kind of virtual muster point that an astounding 400+ people registered at one point before a permanent home was established at Widda.

Though I sort of enjoyed the Facebook reunion group, I found myself far more concerned with the new site. The flight. The information that needed to be shared. The reformation of the group that is rather than the group that was. For me, the Internet has always been a world with real places. People dream about outer space. Space travel. My husband does and so does my middle daughter but the real alternative universes and worlds already exist and better still, we have access to them. They’re on the web. YWBB is a real place to me. Just like Babycenter was when I was there fifteen years ago now. The fact that I can’t touch it, and the method of interaction is virtual, has never stopped me from immersing, meeting, sharing and establishing very real connections and relationships with very real people. Some of whom I know now in real life – like my husband for example – and some of whom I have never even had a phone conversation with – like my YWBB and FB friend, Stella. I met Rob at the YWBB and it’s a story I’ve told countless times and in as many places, so I won’t rehash it word by word, so the board has special meaning.

When I told Rob the board was closing, he shrugged. It didn’t matter to him. He has such a profound faith in our connection that he really does believe we’d have met regardless of the board. I love this about him. But the board is still our meeting place and soon it will no longer exist. It feels just the same to me as when I learned that the Science Center in Des Moines – where my late husband and I established the relationship that would lead to marriage, baby and widowhood – had been closed. It was the week before he died and the day after he died, I went there. Parked in the empty lot and walked around to the far side of the building to stand in the spot where we were standing the evening I realized that I loved him. I just stood there and cried. Said goodbye.

I haven’t cried about the YWBB. But it has brought back memories. Sharp. Stinging. Regretful. And, as per usual, when I am faced with emotions that threaten to swamp me, I act. I shuttled information between the new board and the Facebook group. Searched the YWBB archives, took screenshots and found links that I shared. I even posted again. Lord Almighty, save me from becoming “that widow”, who hangs around the board past her “best before” date, trying to “fix” and emoting far too much. Something that I swore to the imaginary gods that I would never do. And I won’t be her. Not for much longer but as the original YWBB founders feel the need to finally drive a stake through a dying board forum (and sadly, it was dying and this new board is just the jump-start it’s been needing), I find I have just enough widow left in me to pass it backward. Give so that a new haven for young widows can become a new place for others. Sure, there are a shit-tonne of venues for the widowed, but as I mentioned, they drip with the stench of self-help conformity and commercial entrepreneurship. The beauty of the YWBB (and with luck Widda) is that it’s a community of just people. No angles. Nothing being sold or promoted. Just people who hurt, sharing and healing – hopefully – with the help of one and other. Even the worst day on the YWBB, and there were plenty of those, someone reached out and someone cared enough to answer. 24/7. 365 days a year. The board never closed and no one was ever (knowingly) turned away.

Jill is right. I should blog more.

The YWBB is No More

For what it is worth, the YWBB has closed up shop. widda

If you are currently a member, you have until March 20th to log in and contact anyone who might be on your personal message list, and you might be able to use the search function to track down any old posts you want to save (just take screen shots – it’s easiest) or contact anyone you haven’t connected with on other social media outlets.

Thanks to some quick thinking by a marvelous widdas named Jezzy (Jess) and Justin, a new board is already up and running and you can access it via this link.

If you are an oldtimer from the board days or someone whose recently been directed to the site and haven’t been able to register – think about signing up. The more the merrier. There are also YWBB groups (think high school reunion type stuff) on Facebook. They are closed groups but I don’t think anyone is being denied entry. They added me after all. And you don’t get more grief heretic than me.

I won’t comment on the decision to shut ye old widda board down without warning beyond saying, I would have handled it differently (but I would have done a lot of things there differently).

And the ye olde widda board founders are directing folks to Soaring Spirits, which while they’ve done good things, is a bit too commercial for my tastes. If you like your grief Life Time for Women movie style or 5 step self-help to happiness again though – it will be right up your alley. It’s very “fix it” oriented and has a plethora of “been there/done that” semi-celebs (yes, there’s a hierarchy in the widow world – that’s life after all) to sell you a book or moderate a conference that will set you right again.

In the meantime, if you are recently (or not so) widowed and just  looking for a place to go to vent, to cry, to share with people who “get it”, check out the new place. It seems like a nice place. You won’t be alone because you are not alone. There are people out here on the wide web who’ve been where you are and can – if nothing else – listen. And being heard is a lot.