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Anita’s Choice to Leave the Forums

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  • #415122
    tinybuddha
    Keymaster

    Hi all. As many of you may know, there’s been some conflict involving Anita in the forums lately. I won’t rehash the specifics here or take sides. But I know Anita recently informed some of you that she might be banned soon.

    Since I value and appreciate all the time she’s devoted to helping people over the years, and I imagine many of you do too, I wanted to clarify that Anita recently ASKED me to remove her account. I did not and would not ban her. I would far rather mediate to help resolve issues between forum members, ensuring everyone feels safe, respected, and understood, but I understand that Anita felt the issues were insurmountable and preferred to leave.

    If she wants to come back, she’s welcome to return at any time.

    I recognize that I could have intervened sooner to help keep this a peaceful space, and I apologize for not doing so.

    If anyone has any thoughts to share to help me better address situations like this in the future, feel free to post them below!

    Lori

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by tinybuddha.
    #415125
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Lori

    I don’t think anyone wants to see her leave. She has had an overwhelmingly positive influence on the community.

    If you would like to mediate and if that is something Anita wants, I would be happy for you to do that. Please feel free to email me in regards to that.

    #415130
    Brandy
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I hope you return to the forums. You’ve done so much good here and I see this situation as a wonderful opportunity for growth for all of us. I got to the origin of the conflict and believe that in mid-May of last year an innocent misunderstanding occurred between you and another member. Why not resolve the misunderstanding and get back to the forums so you can continue what you do so well? Both you and this other member are important contributors to these forums. The forums are better with both of you here! I can no longer be as active on TB as I once was but I will briefly answer one or two posts today so that they don’t go unanswered.

    B

    #415142
    EvFran
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been reading this blog with interest and pleasure for years. I found it was a safe, kind and serious place, especially because of Anita’s answers. She takes people’s questions very seriously, has objective and intelligent answers. She always follows up, never lets anybody down. I have the feeling that she is one of the solid rocks of this forum. Her answers to others’ questions helped me as well. I have always admired her professionalism and the time she invested in her comments. She often says she will be back in 10 or 20 hours 🙂 And she is. As I said: she never let’s anybody down.

    I rarely react on the internet as I don’t really trust it and I don’t like to talk about myself. Now I feel I should communicate because I think that this forum will not be the same without Anita’s kind and intelligent presence. And even though I am not an active member, she should know that her precious  contribution can touch and help people all over the world without her knowing it.

    Nevertheless, I fully understand that she needs a break but I hope that this conflict will be solved in a peaceful way and she will be back soon. In the end that’s why this forum exists, doesn’t it.

    #415145
    SereneWolf
    Participant

    Dear Anita,
    Your impact is immense here, So the energy you put here to give insights as well. But I guess maybe it could feel draining because it’s mostly giving and not receiving. and As humans we need receiving as well.

    Dear Lori,
    I’m no expert but Maybe she needs a little space to recharge herself?

    #415150
    Tee
    Participant

    oops, something went wrong with formating. Reposting….

     

    Dear Lori, Helcat and all,

    I too am sorry that anita chose to leave, even though nobody forced her to, moreover she in her most recent posts expressed that she doesn’t want to leave. I too valued her contributions immensely and I believe that her presence on the forums will be irreplaceable, since she was completely dedicated to helping each and every person, and no one’s post was left unanswered. Also, she offered super valuable advice and insight to so many people. Her contributions will really be missed 🙁

    I agree with Lori that the situation with anita and Helcat isn’t black-and-white. In my opinion, there was sensitivity on both sides. For example, anita didn’t mean to question the validity of Helcat’s childhood trauma, but Helcat seems to have interpreted anita’s words as questioning and possibly accusing her of lying, which wasn’t anita’s intention.

    But, truth to be told, anita has in the past accused several members of lying and inventing their stories, which led to some of those members leaving and deleting their accounts. I am not sure if this is what made you, Helcat, super vigilant and believing that anita accused you of the same, when in fact she didn’t?

    I want to stress that anita helped hundreds of people with kindness, care and respect, whereas the instances where it wasn’t the case were pretty rare. The good that she did far outweighed a sporadic problematic reaction here and there.

    But if we want to talk about how to prevent such situations in the future (answering to Lori’s question “If anyone has any thoughts to share to help me better address situations like this in the future, feel free to post them below!”), what I see as problematic is that I started to censor myself whenever I noticed a potential problem in anita’s reactions (which, I want to stress again, was very very rarely).

    But nevertheless, anita reacted very strongly to criticism, even constructive criticism, directed at her. And she came up with a rule, which I believe isn’t a part of the forum guidelines, which she repeated to Helcat too (on Sept 18, 2022):

    To promote safety and calm in the forums, it is important that Responders (members who choose to reply to an OP, in the OP’s thread)  do not criticize other Responders. It is not at all necessary because a Responder can thoroughly express his/ her understandings, convictions, etc.-  as many times as she wants, and at length- without criticizing other responders. Not only is there no benefit to the OP in such criticism, but it can easily turn an OP away from his/ her thread and discourage Responders from responding because of fear of being criticized.

    This “rule” basically says that we shouldn’t say anything, even if one member is being unkind to another member. Anita presented this rule to me too, when I once tried to point out that she might be unkind or insensitive to another member. She reacted very strongly, explained why it was wrong of me to address her directly in the OP’s thread, and told me she wouldn’t be communicating with me again.

    I’ve recognized it was a sensitive spot for her, and I think she too realized it in the meanwhile (and we’ve smoothed our misunderstanding since). However, the result was that from that moment on, I’ve never said anything, even if sometimes I’ve noticed things that bothered me.

    This “rule” silenced me. I didn’t want to say anything to anita, because she truly did so much good on the forums and I didn’t want to provoke unnecessary conflict.

    I understand how this rule can be beneficial too, because it prevents exactly that – unnecessary conflict and criticism among members. But when taken to the extreme, it can discourage constructive criticism as well, and things are swept under the rug, instead of clarified and talked about.

    So, I agree with Brandy that this could be an opportunity for growth for all of us. At least it is for me. As much as I cherish peace and no conflict, sometimes it is necessary to speak out, even if it might be uncomfortable. Constructive criticism, when there is a loving intention behind it, isn’t bad, but necessary.

    It is also my impression that Helcat’s criticism of anita was partially constructive (i.e. justified) and partially stemmed from over sensitivity. That’s why I said I believe this wasn’t a black-and-white situation. But unfortunately anita saw it as black-and-white. She felt attacked and even stalked by Helcat, and chose to leave. And it’s a huge loss for the community.

    I truly hope she works through some things and returns to the forum, because her help, advice and care will be greatly missed.

    #415152
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Tee

    So there’s some previous history that you might have missed.

    Anita was very brave and opened a thread encouraging people to talk to her on it. I included the feedback that it sounds like she was having difficulty with anxiety. She decided to ignore me and became verbally abusive. I apologised, she forgave me and continued to ignore me.

    This was the frame for how she came onto my personal thread. There was no trust because of her behaviour towards me. She asked if my experience of drowning really happened and provided a quote of a reported experience of drowning without further context.

    To me this was questioning the validity of what I experienced.

    She later added context and denied that she was accusing me of lying. But why include the quote of a different drowning experience?

    The experience of drowning is incidently a major trigger for me which didn’t help at all. I also have a learning difficulty which causes me to interpret things literally.

    I agree, Anita’s difficulties are sporadic. In fact, since I left she worked on her behaviour towards other members a lot. I returned only because she managed to go for a whole month without incident (it may have been longer but I didn’t check past the most recent month). I tried to reassure anita and communicate this when she expressed distress about being reported but this was promptly deleted.

    My understanding is that my return was a trigger for anita that caused a couple of minor stumbles. I had faith that she would adjust and return to her previously sensitive behaviour.

    Whilst she wasn’t comfortable discussing feedback she did very well with taking it on board. I was very proud of anita’s growth while I was away.

    I think the difficulty with ignoring people is that issues cannot be resolved when someone chooses to do that. I’m someone who discusses and resolves problems.

    Is peace, really peace when people are left to hurt in silence?

    #415156
    Helcat
    Participant

    In your Buddhism Journal thread, you shared: “My mother was fond of suffocation and drowning. I practiced free diving breathing techniques to survive this. I was scared of dying in this violent way“- when I read these two sentences  yesterday morning, it was news to me and I was very surprised that I failed to read it earlier. At first, when I read this, I  “heard” myself  asking you incredulously: did it REALLY happen? I was surprised that you didn’t share such a severe traumatic detail in an original post on your first or second thread.

    Not that it doesn’t happen that mothers drown their children. Very recent news, 5 minutes ago, Friday Sept 16, 2022, abc 7, ny. com: “The mother accused of drowning her three children off a Coney Island beach was arraigned on murder charges Friday from her hospital bed at NYU Langone, where she is receiving psychiatric attention. Erin Merdy, 30, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts each of second-degree murder, both with depraved indifference to human life and murder with victim under 11 years old, in connection with the deaths of 7-year-old Zachery Merdy, 4-year-old Liliana Stephens-Merdy, and 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev. According to the criminal complaint, Merdy was caught on surveillance camera walking toward the ocean with the children just before 1 a.m. Monday. About two hours later, police observed a ‘barefoot and wet’ Merdy on the boardwalk by the beach. At about 4:20 a.m., police found Zachary Merdy and Liliana Stephens-Merdy ‘lying on the shoreline unresponsive, wet and with sand on their bodies’”.

    From the news yesterday “Merdy had at least two reports of neglect filed against her with the city Administration for Children’s Services for failing to bring the kids to school… (one of the children’s fathers) told the New York Times his son was often dirty and hungry when he showed up for mandated custody visits. He told the outlet he reported the mom to ‘child protective services’ and attempted to get full custody of their son, to no avail. It’s not clear to which agency the father reported the mother.”

    And of course, there is the infamous Andrea Yates from Huston, Texas who drowned her five children in the bathtub of their home back in June 2001.

     

    #415157
    Helcat
    Participant

    At the very least, it was insensitive to bring up what is clearly a major trigger out of no where. And to question if it happened.

    #415159
    Helcat
    Participant

    I cannot even fathom a positive reason why anyone would say something like this.

    #415171
    tinybuddha
    Keymaster

    @SereneWolf ~ Based on my emails with Anita, I think it’s deeper than needing space to recharge. But perhaps with space she’ll see things from a different perspective. I hope so, as I agree with everyone who wrote about all the good she’s done!


    @Tee
    – I 100% agree with what you wrote about constructive feedback. Criticism doesn’t always have to lead to conflict if someone delivers it constructively, with positive intent, and the person on the receiving end keeps an open mind. I’m sorry that you felt silenced by this ‘rule.’ Your feedback is valuable and your thoughts and feelings matter!


    @Helcat
    ~ I can see how that exchange would be distressing. I don’t think I’ve seen all your exchanges with Anita, but I’m so sorry you had interactions that felt abusive to you!

    #415172
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Lori

    My guess is that you haven’t seen any of the abuse directed at me. But your moderation team saw all of it and chose to ignore it.

    If I were you, I’d have a chat with them.

    #415173
    tinybuddha
    Keymaster

    My moderator DID email about some posts, but there was a time when the forums weren’t moderated by anyone else, and I wasn’t really on top of it myself either. I don’t have a large team, and I’ve always worn a lot of hats! Probably too many.

    #415181
    Arden
    Participant

    Best wishes for Anita; I hope she will be forever peaceful and happy.

    #415183
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Lori

    Thank you for taking the time to handle this situation. I know you’re a busy woman, you have a family and a business to run. Your feedback and openness to feedback is much appreciated.

    Wishing you all the best 🙏

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