If you haven’t already, be sure to read the intro first.
*UPDATED: I have commented on the response to this post here*
Once upon a time, there was a blogger (Fantine), who had built a nice little home in the blogging meadow. She’d been through a rough period in her life and blogging had given her a spot to sort through it and figure things out.
She met many amazing, supportive women online; women who, like her, were raising small children or had already done that, and were willing to share their wisdom.
The internet meadow was beautiful.
Rainbows, sparkles, confetti and sunshine abounded.
One day, from out of the blogging forest, a blogger named BackStreet emerged. She was funny, charming and smart. They quickly became friends.
One conversation lead to another and soon, they were brainstorming names and ideas for an online women’s magazine that BackStreet was wanting to start. Many play-date meetings took place at BackStreet’s home while they both worked hard on the magazine, hopeful that it would be a success and they would be set up in beautiful palaces within the Land of the Internets.
They knew they’d found their golden ticket.
For over a year, just about every waking hour was spent committed to seeing this happen. At the same time babies were nursed, children were schooled, babies were born, families were moved, dinners were prepared, sleep was back-burnered.
Early on, the discussion came up about making their partnership legal. After all, both of them had their fingerprints all over the project.
BackStreet said she would have her attorney draft papers that made Fantine a 50/50 partner, not just in name, but legally. They were both broke at the time, but Fantine completely trusted BackStreet, and was fine with waiting until it was financially feasible to have the papers drawn.
At some point, the decision was made that they would try to start a blogging conference to go along with the magazine. Earlier in the year, Fantine had met Fairy Godmother; someone who had a background in “the business”, and she introduced her to BackStreet as someone who might be able to advise or help them.
Despite the fact that Fantine started noticing less talk from BackStreet about “we” or “us” and more talk about “me” and “I”, (clue 1) she focused on the goal, pushing aside concerns. She’d invested so much of her time and they were so close to making it.
Besides, BackStreet was her friend. She’d never had a friend like BackStreet. Ever.
Eventually, the conference went off very well [BackStreet and Fairy Godmother were the shining stars. (clue 2])
With the success of their mini-trial conference, the official one was on track for the following February, with the help of Fairy Godmother.
But conversations were happening and decisions were being made without Fantine. There was a total disconnect between the public and private personas. (clue 3)
At the same time, crazy demands were being placed on her, followed by her loyalty and commitment being called into question. The “we”s were starting to refer to BackStreet and Fairy Godmother… not BackStreet and Fantine. (clues 4, 5 and 6)
And so it continued.
Fantine was increasingly pushed aside, being moved further and further out of the picture. Having already invested so much into the projects and being so close to the goal, she struggled with what to do.
Fantine wrote up her thoughts on the pros and cons of walking away, so that she could talk with BackStreet.
After all, they were friends.
The conversation never happened. There was a confrontation on another issue; Fantine expressed her grievances, offered to stay through the conference and in the end, was told that, due to the grievances she’d expressed, she could not be trusted and that all she had ever been was “just an employee”.
Their working relationship ended that day. So did their friendship.
In the end, Fantine was shown something that shook her to the core: an email from earlier on in the project in which BackStreet stated she didn’t have any intention of having legal documents signed.
So. There it is.
Even now, as I read this, I struggle with frustration. With anger. With jealousy.
All of this over a community whose mission statement was about empowering women. Helping them find their happiness.
I’ve struggled with the fact that from a business perspective, it happens every. flippin‘. day.
Every day, people make decisions that are “business, not personal”.
And this, apparently, was what my cautionary tale boiled down to from the outside.
So get over it.
But it’s not.
Because in the end, I think what I suffered with the most…
…even more than being stripped of something I’d invested an enormous amount of time and creativity into.
… even more than seeing the other person go on and get the praise, recognition and applause…
was the loss of so many other friendships.
People suddenly had no need for me. My twitter stream screamed with silence. My inbox sat nearly empty.
I experienced grief.
The very community that I was trying to help lift up and promote and empower turned their back on me for standing up for myself.
I made people uncomfortable just by my presence. So I was avoided.
No one wanted to reach out to me in public, for fear of ruining their own chances of success.
So, what the heck did I learn?
Where is the moral to all of this… my cautionary tale?
The moment you put your hopes and dreams into the hands of others, you screw yourself.
I gave all control over to someone else.
I take total ownership of that.
So much did I want this, that ultimately, I allowed my own dreams to become blended and co-opted by someone else. I helped make their dream come true while forsaking my own. I handed over control of my future and signed the check over to them.
I’m responsible for that.
Don’t do that to yourself.
Make your dreams your own.
Take charge of them.
Because honestly? I wouldn’t wish the last two years of trudging through this on anyone. Not even the other person involved. There is nothing pretty about it. No one likes a pity party. No one likes to be around someone who just sits in their own crap and misery.
So learn from me. Take my advice.
Do it your way. OWN IT.
*UPDATED: I have commented on the response to this post here*