Bailing vs Being Self Protective, a case study…

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.- Albert Schweitzer
I’m fine. All is well. There’s no drama, generally or abuse wise, in my life.

Except, I feel edgy and menstrual, which in itself is probably the cause of the edgy.

I have a performance this Friday. I’m not looking forward to it. I’d like to be better prepared, but feel like I’d be wimping out if I bailed.

I really really want to bail. Firstly, my guitarist who would normally play for me can’t make it, so if I want accompaniment, I have to sing with a recording. I’ve never done that before, and don’t have a lot of faith in the sound tech for this event. This in itself gives me a good reason to bail, as I told the organizer my acceptance was contingent on my guitarist being able to make it.

What is actually a bit worse is that I volunteered to help with the opening blessing, and yesterday got an email letting me know who the other priestesses are to be. One of them is a woman who is an ex housemate. We had to kick her out of the shared house we lived in because she was bullying me.  What this looked like was a lot of yelling and imposing body language on her part and a lot of cringing and ineffective arguing on mine, much like my experience was with my father/abuser. Generally she did the worst stuff when no-one was around to witness, until one day my wife came home when she was at it and intervened. We lived together during the time shortly after my father/abuser was in a car accident and I thought he would die, so I was quite fragile and definitely in no shape to defend myself the way I would normally do. It is the first time since I left my home with my parents that I have felt that afraid and helpless.  At one point I was so afraid of her that I left my wife and dog at the house and went to live with a friend for two weeks, so I could make it through to the time she was due to move out. It was a close thing as to whether she would succeed in bullying me to leave or would leave herself.

This happened over six years ago, and I have run into her at events from time to time since then. Mostly I ignore her and don’t initiate contact with her, and that works out tolerably. Since she seems to have gotten into leadership roles in the community, I’ve mostly bowed out completely so I don’t have to be around her. This has cost me opportunities to priestess and be in community, but honestly there are other things about this community that don’t fit well either. Priestessing a blessing together would require interaction.

Generally, the more orthodox Pagan protocol for these types of situations, is that if two members of a circle have a conflict they cannot resolve, it is the responsibility of the parties to put it aside during the ceremony completely, or if they cannot, to withdraw. It’s kind of like “speak now or forever hold your peace” at weddings. Some circles even ask “is there peace on the circle” before starting to ensure that people have a chance to withdraw if they need to. I’m on the orthodox end of things when it comes to pagan ethics, and this community isn’t, so withdrawal wouldn’t be required of me by community standards, but is absolutely required by my own standards.

I have stopped going to religious events in my former community because this bully is quite active in leadership roles. At the time, she was angry that she was kicked out of our house, not accountable for her behavour (as bullies seldom are) and has no doubt spread her perspective among the other people in our formerly shared community. One or two of her friends, when I have run into them, show signs that they have been told something (I’m not sure what) that makes them cooler toward me. The way Pagan opening ceremonies work is that the people doing the opening have to stay to the end and participate in the closing, so I wouldn’t be able to leave if the going got tough.

My third reason for wanting to bail is that, I lead a choir that has offered to perform that night, and we’re just not ready to perform publicly.

The fourth reason is that there are lots of other performers, and we probably won’t be on till about three hours in, and I’ll be fried from the priestessing and the waiting and even less likely to be able to perform competently because of it.

One other glitch is that the organizer has disclosed to me that she has BPD and I know rejection, if she takes it that way, might be particularly painful for her.

I don’t want to do a bad job in a hostile environment as my first time performing in awhile in front of people who may have been poisoned against me. I don’t think it would be good for my currently fragile performer’s soul.

I am an amazon; I can get through anything, but do I want to? I really should let the organizer know now, so she can find someone else for the opening.


Okay, I’ve finished drafting my bail email to the organizer. I haven’t sent it yet, but I should do soon, as the gig is less than a week away.

Now I’m not certain. Is this a challenge I should accept, making myself visible and possibly a target, or a valid warning that I should avoid?

0 thoughts on “Bailing vs Being Self Protective, a case study…”

  1. What are the pros to doing this gig?

    There seem to be enough fall-throughs that you taking leave would be understandable and not abandoning your duties to the community.

    Whether you choose to do it or not, I support your decision.

  2. I’m with Kinda May be Sorta – what are the benefits for you of pushing through the anxieties? If you see some, then may be it’s worth doing… if not, if it’s just all the reasons not to… then bail, absolutely bail. A therapist gave me that advice about a year ago, it’s proven infallible.

    1. Hi Kerro and Kindamaybesorta,
      Yes, I ended up bailing on the gig. I guess it was the principle of the thing, keeping my word and all that, and also, whether this was a lesson for me. When things happen kind of coincidentally (my arch enemy being unexpectedly at the concert) in a religious context I wonder if there isn’t some message in it from the Goddess. In this case, what I decided was that the message was that I’d given up on this particular community of pagans for more than one reason and I should keep it that way.

      I realize that I owe it to myself not to set myself up to fail for my first time performing in awhile, as well. The challenge now, of course, is to actually find a good opportunity to perform and do it.

  3. Hi SWD – I don’t think you were setting yourself up for failure. I think putting yourself out there was brave, but for some reason people and events conspired against you to make this not only undoable, but also not worth it. I’m sure that another opportunity will come along and you’ll be a great success! 🙂

  4. welll, i would say that as far as performing, an obligation is generally an obligation.

    your ex-roommate, however, complicates things a great deal. if you can’t handle that situation, i’d simply explain that as best you can. and that is valid. you don’t have to deal with that person if you don’t want to deal with the situation.

    and if performing and dealing is just too hard, don’t do it. just explain why. i think anyone would understand.

  5. butterflysblog

    I know it is late, but I just want to say – if it were me, I would totally bail. When I have gone to things like this against my better judgment, I have usually regretted it. You are correct to care for yourself by bailing on this horribleness.

  6. I know this is a late comment, but I missed this post. Sorry.

    I wanted to say that you had an out set up into your commitment, you are allowed to take the best care of you, what you believe is right for you, even if you feel and believe it is bailing or self care. I don’t see this situation as self care. Taking care of yourself is a lovely lesson to learn from this. You did. This person is not only a bully, but a monster. And to treat you like this when you were so fragile, well what an awful person she is too. I remember you posting about her on your blog in the past and it has always made me mad, and perhaps not really rational. But someone who hurts one of my friends, well they are mean and cruel.

    If as a communal group this is the kind of person who is allowed to lead, well that says a lot about them. They perhaps are being generous towards her, but let me say that if someone can abuse and bully you, then they are using power to abuse others as well. This cannot be an isolated incident. I’m sorry you have to see her around, even rarely. Ick.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


    1. Thanks. Yes, this woman certainly made my life hell for several months. The other people in the community are probably not that aware of how bad she is, I know I wasn’t before I invited her to move in, so I don’t really blame them, although I don’t make a secret of it now when it comes up.

      1. Hi SDW,

        I see where my bias leads me to believe that others should be able to feel those vibes from her. I know that isn’t always true. I certainly have been mislead by those who were setting me up to being abused, especially verbally and financially abused. I was judging them for letting her be in a leadership role. I was wrong. Not everyone can tell. Kudos to you for speaking up. As always it looks like you are doing a good job of taking care of yourself. That is important. Good and healing thoughts to you.


        1. Yes, I wonder why others seem to like or support people like her too. It seems obvious now that I know, but I know what an abuser feels like better than they do I guess. Good and healing thoughts to you too.

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