1) Dealing with an issue that keeps on keepin’ on…

Hello Brooke,
I’m a new student and look forward to the learning! I have a very specific questions after reading your book.

A few years ago I had a negative experience with women I thought were my friends. I have struggled to metabolize this issue and have worked a lot on it psychologically and spiritually. I have made a lot of progress, but the beliefs that have sprung from this experience aren’t aligned with what I wish for myself and I struggle to turn around my thinking.

This is the story (I know it is a story). Since having a girl-bully experience in early elementary school, I’d successfully identified and avoided what I call “queen bees” (punishing girls/women who insist on being obeyed or followed). As a social and socially adept person, I’d learned how to be around these women while not being pulled into their orbit. This gave me the opportunity to accomplish a lot in my career and be socially active while carefully choosing my friends: women who collaborate, cooperate, lift others and want to be lifted.

A few years ago, after moving to a new state, I became friends with a group of women from my children’s charter elementary school. I enjoyed being with them and never identified the signs that there was a “queen bee” in the group. The woman who turned out to be the queen was a staunch verbal advocate for the school, but rarely on campus or in the classrooms. Since I volunteered there several times a week, over the first 2 years there I noticed concerning issues that weren’t resolving, but were worsening. When I voiced them in this friend group, she would always take a hardline and counter my opinions. I was fine with that because I enjoy a good discussion, also, she took a hardline on a lot of issues so I assumed it was her way.

Within 3 years of becoming friends with these women, an incident occurred at the school and several parents, including I, pulled our children out of 2nd grade. This was a family decision we made within a week. I never consulted this group or talked to the queen about it directly and she never contacted me. So, without me sharing our decision or them contacting me, the queen and another woman in the group began to shun me. They literally used teen-movie style female bullying: ignoring, shutting out- they even told me an empty seat was taken at an event so I wouldn’t sit with them. When I asked another woman in the group what was going on with the queen, she told me the queen was mad at me. When I asked why, she looked confused and “reminded” me that the queen and I were in a fight. When I asked her why, she said it was about the school and when I told her we hadn’t spoken at all since I pulled out my daughter- that we weren’t fighting, she was in disbelief and didn’t choose to believe me.

Hilarious to consider, but confusing and painful to experience. I was being bullied for falling out of line! I had no idea that adult women could act this way. I felt betrayed and tricked. It flipped my idea of what community, friendship and the place I lived on it’s head. In the end, I chose to maintain relationships with the 2 women who I’d grown the closest to in the group and methodically cut off my relationships with the rest.

It has been at least 2 years since I’ve been out of orbit with this group. I have much more peace and harmony in my life and much clearer relationships. I want to uproot the distrustful and cautious belief system that has come from this experience. I feel it has undermined my joy and exuberance.

This new attitude has influenced many areas of my life- it has made me less enthusiastic and hopeful in general and effected my social life and willingness to take chances (including on myself and my desires). Gratefully, since I discovered your podcast, I’ve been able to start turning things around. That is why I joined SCS- I want more. In terms of this issue, when I identify my thought it is: You can’t trust anyone-be on alert. My feelings are shame, humiliation, sadness, distrust and hate. My actions are to sit back rather act and investigate and to stop being outgoing and engaged. My result is that I only have 1 intimate friend where I live now and I hesitate to engage others or initiate.

I’d like help turning this (these) thought(s) around.