Warrior 2 – It takes much bravery to stand up to our enemies but we need as much bravery to stand up to our friends

The Goddess Brigid
The Goddess Brigid

“Warriorship…does not refer to making war on others. Agression is the source of our problems, not the solution. Here the word “warrior” is taken from the Tibetan Pawo, which literally means “one who is brave.” Warriorship—is the tradition of human bravery, or the tradition of fearlessness.” – Chogyam Trungpa

In those terms, most of the survivors I know are also warriors.

“The trained martial artist…truly acts only in response to agression. He [sic]does not seek it out. When made, his [sic] responses are nonresistant and nonviolent. He [sic] is a man of peace. – Musashi (1584-1645)

Something to strive for.

“Each Warrior wants to leave the mark of his [sic] will, his signature, on important acts he touches. This is not the voice of ego but of the human spirit, rising up and declaring that it has something to contribute to the solution of the hardest problems, no matter how vexing!” – Pat Riley

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. (Ghandi)

“It takes much bravery to stand up to our enemies but we need as much bravery to stand up to our friends.” — J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

I quit the my position on the board of an company I co-founded this morning. I hadn’t had too much sleep. My wife and I had been up till 1 AM (unusual for us) and I’d been woken by the summer sunlight and a persistent sense of anxiety this morning at 7am. I finally got up at 7:30 and did a tarot reading. “Tell me about quitting the board” I asked. The response was pretty unanimous, it was a good business decision, and the time had come for change.

Now before you think that I make major decisions solely on the basis of a card reading, I don’t. I founded this organization years ago with a guy who became my friend I met at a meeting to discuss [censored] that was posted in a local paper. We were both annoyed by the ‘all talk no action’ atmosphere of the meeting and decided that we wanted to actually get something done on a cause we cared about.

So we founded [the company]. In the process we took on several more members, but it was still mostly me and that first guy who did most of the work. We’ve completed several projects. Over time there became a dynamic between an the guy I founded it with, where I realized both of us needed more control than we’d get sharing the company with each other. At the same time, he wanted to quit his regular job and work more for the organization and I wanted to focus more on my own business. So I let him know I’d be backing off. I still had his back, filled in for him when he went on vacation, attended board meetings and helped out when I could.

I was getting the official and tax mail for the organization at my home, and I noticed a pattern where we were getting a lot of “you haven’t filed such and such government paperwork yet” and “you owe us a remittance on this tax or that tax” letters. One was a ‘you still haven’t paid your insurance’ letter. I passed them on to my colleague, who does the books and he explained he’d gotten swamped and hadn’t dealt with them but would, or that he just had, or whatever. I believed him, and probably still do, although it is definitely not my style to let these things go undone. I didn’t want to appear critical, because I knew he was truly swamped, but made suggestions about getting a bookkeeper, and I began to get very uneasy.

One night I woke up in the middle of a dream with the sudden knowledge that I should get off the board. I considered it, but knew that I had no respect for most of the other people who were involved, and he’d be outnumbered and hung out to dry without me.

I was sick on the night of our AGM, but sent word that I was okay with standing for the board.
When it came time for me to do the paperwork to let the government know about the results of the AGM. I looked at the responsibilities and liabilities of a board  of directors. It turns out all of us are responsible, personally, financially for the debts of the organization. I called my friend to ask him to explain the financial statements from the AGM to me and to ask him how we stood. He explained he was having some problems with one of the suppliers, who had been paid for equipment that he wasn’t delivering, and that we had some accounts payable that he hadn’t gotten to invoicing.

On a whim, I opened one of the bank statements (which also were coming to the house) that I hadn’t been looking at. In it, I saw references to at least one loan. I asked my friend about it and he said he’d been lending personal money to the organization to help it through cash flow issues. I didn’t ask him how much.

At the next meeting I attended, we talked about the finances and the full story came out, that we were tens of thousands of dollars in debt, most of which was money lent interest free from his savings by my friend, but that when the invoices were paid it would all work out. With me making the argument that as a board, we have to know about and control new debt if we’re going to be responsible for it, we voted in some measures to put a cap on any future debt, and to make sure the board authorizes any further borrowing. I was also asked to write a collection/settlement letter threatening legal action to the supplier.

That night I was restless and motivated by anxiety about the meeting, did all the things I’d volunteered to do, including sending out the draft letter for review by the other members, staying up till midnight to do so. One of the other board members, who is a friend of the recalcitrant supplier, took exception to the legal tone of the letter and my speed in producing it. He accused me of vindictiveness against his supplier friend, he thought, who he figures I’ve had something against all along. He always smelled fishy to me, so maybe I did. In a transparently veiled way, he laid his anger on me in an email ccd to everyone.–>

A man can be called ruthless if he bombs a country to oblivion. A woman can be called ruthless if she puts you on hold. – Gloria Steinem (b. 1934)

I’d had enough. This guy does no work at all, and rarely follows through with anything he commits to do. I told him in no uncertain terms, ccing all the others, as he had,  that I’d only done as I’d been asked and that when he started doing as much work as I did and as promptly I’d be more willing to take his criticism.  My friend also clarified in another email I wish I’d read before responding, that he also saw the need to take legal action against the supplier and that I had been only doing as they’d all agreed in the meeting.

Again, I get an angry response from the other board member, attacking me personally for my manner, things I’d said, and blaming me for a painful experience I’d told him about in another situation, accusing me of having poor personal skills. Essentially the message was “bad not submissive woman, assertive dyke, you have no right to stand up to me, a man, about this and be mean to my poor helpless friend (who owes us $6000 and a pissed of client for the delays)”.

I replied and told him he was clearly taking the matter personally, and that the letter was a business decision, and that his personal attacks were inappropriate and I wanted them to stop. I apologized to the others for including them in my emails to this guy and said that I would not be discussing the topic further.

Here’s when the last straw happened.

My friend replies to my email and told both of us the email exchange was the most unprofessional he’d seen and that he wanted us to stop (I already had) and direct any future emails to him. I agreed the other guy was very unprofessional, but although I probably could have accepted the other guy’s first barb and taken the high road (and resented it), after that I’d been carefully worded my responses.

I was exhausted with pain and shame. Nobody likes a whistle-blower. If it hadn’t been for me, the financial problem would have limped on forever and we’d have been thousands more in debt or something worse – like the insurance bill not getting paid and us getting sued for liability on one of our jobs with no insurance to cover us. If it hadn’t been for me, no-one would have supported my friend’s need to take a harder line with this supplier.

So this morning, I decided to quit the board. A progressive company should be directed by those who actually do most of the work, which (now) isn’t me and it isn’t my ‘just in it for his resume’ board colleague, who has barely done  a lick of work in years.  I crafted and sent an email, at the same time reading yet another poison pen email from the other board member. Knowing I was quitting, it didn’t sink in at all.

My wife is all for it. Once I told her we were potentially on the hook for this debt, she wanted me out. She’s also heard me complain for the last year or two about being frustrated and ambivalent. It’s time to let go.

Tomorrow I have to see my friend to finish a task I promised to do. He’s let me know he wants to talk about ‘it’ and I’ve agreed. I don’t know if he’ll tell me off or try and talk me into staying. I do know it will probably be difficult.

I’m prepared to tread the high road here, but I’m not going back.

Dumbledore was right, it is harder to stand up to your friends than your enemies.

0 thoughts on “Warrior 2 – It takes much bravery to stand up to our enemies but we need as much bravery to stand up to our friends”

  1. butterflysblog

    You are brave, Warrior. I often think about your bravery in my times of cowardice, and I use that image as something to aspire towards.

  2. Hi SwordDanceWarrior,

    Great job.

    I’m glad that it wasn’t so bad. I know sometimes the anticipation and worry can make doing something so very anxiety-ridden for hours or days. Glad it is over and done with.

    Thanks for the thoughts.


  3. Hi SwordDanceWarrior,

    I like the definitions you shared. They are great.

    It sounds like you have made some good decisions. You were being the responsible one, the worker, and often I have experienced backlash against this as well, often from the same type of person, one who is not working and not being diligent and responsible. Good for you.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


    1. I just got back from seeing my friend and we talked it over. He’s dissapointed I quit the board but understands the reason. It wasn’t too bad in the end. Whew!

      Thanks for your support, Kate. Good and healing thoughts to you too.

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