How do you deal with a bad social experience that cannot leave you alone for years?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (57 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
This is a (very) long post about a bad social experience that affected my life long term…
About 5 years ago, when I was in school, I decided to join a student organization. It was a decision I made on a whim, and being still very immature, I didn’t really follow up on it after being elected. I did not fulfill my duty and I slacked off. At the same time, I had to spend one semester travelling around with 25 people for university. One of these classmates was also a member of the same student organization, we’ll call her Jane. Jane and I started the semester being friends.
Spending day and night with these same 25 people did not suit me. I was not part of the crowd, and my behavior (I was a loner, and also quite different in many ways to the rest of the group) did not help the social aspect of things. I kind of went on doing my thing and exploring my surroundings, meeting local people, but at the same time I managed to start a relationship with a popular guy in the group.
Now I must say, I have many defects (I am impatient, speak too soon and sound fighty when I’m actually just talking) that were not very favorable in this situation. Towards the end of the semester, then, my new boyfriend started sleeping with someone else in the same class. People started to also openly ostracize me and ignore me, which was really hard. I started hearing all these rumors that were not true at all. In summary, everyone else except for one loyal friend openly hated me, and it was pretty hellish. Nobody spoke to me, they accused me of theft, lies, and kind of outrageous things that were not true. I understand they had a right to dislike me, but they got really, really mean. If it’s worth mentioning, I was 22 years old, and all of us were in our twenties. Jane was the only 30 year old person.
When the semester was over and I had a meeting with the student organization back in campus, Jane (who had started most of the rumors) showed up with a letter signed by all of my classmates except for two. She turned on a cassette recorder, and proceeded to read this horrible letter with my every defect written on it (and some lies, too). She read it in front of a bunch of people, all of them friends, none of them part of this particular class. This felt really invasive. The letter talked about everything from my singing too loudly to not flushing the toilet, and it was long as hell. She read the letter to friends that had had nothing to do with my class, to my sister and to a bunch of unrelated people. It was the most embarrassing thing I have ever been through. This was at around the same time I found out I had been cheated on, and I’m pretty sure the guy I dated shared personal (sex) information with the rest of the class.
So back to the meeting, Jane read on and on, all the while recording my reaction (I was crying) and holding the cassette recorder up so I guess she could go back to my classmates and play the recording to them and they could all hate me together. The letter asked for my resignation on the basis that they didn’t think I was good enough to be part of this association. I resigned and left crying with my sister and a friend, who drove me home. I was really comforting to see this friend and my sister really upset and taking my side, but still I had doubts and I felt like a horrible person.
Now in my head, I know that I wasn’t ready for the responsibility to lead this organization, and I understand their point. But this letter was full of social, personal stuff, and it didn’t have anything that spoke of my leading abilities at all. It was just rumors and reasons why they disliked me personally.
To put it mildly, this letter hurt like hell. I was embarrassed beyond belief, and I became really withdrawn and stopped cultivating friendships. I became a loner, failed subjects at school and I felt kind of traumatized. Everybody in my faculty knew about it, and even more rumors were started. People out side of my faculty and teachers knew, too.
About a year later, Jane apologized, and this provided some closure. But still I find myself thinking about the whole ordeal. I replay it in my head and I feel like crying out of the blue. I imagine what I could have said and things I could have done differently to be liked. I imagine dialogues and think of replies that would have been helpful. Mostly I regret things and I feel really embarrassed. This has happened less and less with time, but it still kind of haunts me, especially when I’m down. I have since graduated, and gotten married, but I just cannot get over this grey cloud that hovers over my head. I feel it was unfair, but I wonder if I deserved it, too.
This happening changed me. It changed my life and it changed my cheerfulness. It changed how I relate to people and my (now very, very few) friendships. It changed me forever.
Could you give me some insights as to how I let this go? Were this people right? Was it fair? Did I deserve this?
I would very much like to forget about this, pretend it never happened. Is it possible?