In the late 1990s, when I was Priestess of a Circle of pagan witches, a quirky dark young lady entered our group. She has been referred to as Rowan in this blog for nearly 2 decades, though its hard to believe I've known her for so long…
When I knew her best, in her 20s and part of my 'tribe' she was the one who wore all the most fun Goth clothes and jewelry. She was geeky for games and sci-fi movies, really into fandoms and a collector of various and sundry merchandise that appeals to that type. She was a 'big girl', but with lovely skin and cheekbones and wide eyes.
Rowan knew how to be feminine and cute, while retaining her dark sense of style and individuality. She was a type 4, with a 3 Wing, which are known as the “Aristocrats,” because they may do their own thing, but its always with flair and an instinct for knowing how to be 'cool' and 'interesting.'
Others in the Circle envied her because she always had a romantic relationship, no matter how big she was (not as many people were bigger in the 90s as now) and she wore make-up and had rings on all her fingers and even toes! She wore ankle bracelets and her entire wardrobe was geared towards a goth aesthetic. Even just going down the street to pick up something at a store she would look amazing.
Nor was she shy! She spoke her mind very bluntly and admantly, rarely backing down. She was intelligent and logical, as well as being more artistically inclined, and could get along with a wide range of people, even those others would shun on general principle as just being “too weird.”
All these things I respected about her. I heard rumblings about her being extra bitchy to some in the Circle, but she was always respectful to me, and if I spoke to her about an issue, she seemed to respond very well and worked with me. When I moved to Ohio, leaving Mutie as my fully-trained Priestess to take over, there were some worries she would cause some trouble. And she did. Nothing major, but she was just abrasive by several reports.
Then, as some of you know, when I moved back to Oregon in 2007, we ended up homeless living in our car, but bunking down on Rowan's futon in her living room at night. From about November to the end of January, then we got our own apartment. However, during the time we lived with her, she was AWFUL, and treated me as if I'd gone native with the hillbillies and needed re-civilizing in basic adult survival skills. She insulted me continuously, and made us feel under the gun and miserable the entire time we stayed with her. She also charged us to live with her– actually over-charging us and then screwed around with her room-mate's money, trying some shady dealing… after I moved I disbanded the group in Oregon and cut ties to her.
About 3 years ago, she found me online and apologized, saying she had undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder. I had a talk to her about how badly things had gone years before, and she again said she was sorry. But then she said she had been living in North Carolina and was divorcing and moving back to Oregon– did I know a place she could stay?
Not that I could put her up anyway, but I wouldn't. Having her as an contact on Facebook didn't mean I was up for being her friend. That ship had sailed. Besides, I had seen many signs that she was a con woman– always working up angles to get money from people that generally ended up being false.
After her divorce and move to Oregon, she started posting again– saying she had lost well over a 100 pounds! And… things were not going well for her…
Besides being older and thinner, she was desperately poor! Then she was homeless. She asked for donations while posting selfies of the back of the pick up she was living in and her suddenly supper skinny face and body! It was eerie, and– given her love of softer drugs back when I knew her, I wondered if she had a little meth problem now…
Still quite lovely looking in many ways, but Rowan's eyes were harder, and her efforts to help herself seemed– off. I watched as she actively added more and more friends to her Facebook to solicit for funds, over 5000 by last count! And yet, I kept seeing longtime friends telling her they knew she was scamming people and they were done with her. I stayed neutral and just lurked, fascinated and horrified by her downfall.
You know how when people do you wrong, you sometimes wish they'd get a taste of their own medicine and then some? Well, it took a decade, but here I was, seeing Rowan 'get hers' and yet I could not enjoy it. I just feel sick. She wasn't perfect, and she had some serious issues even– but seeing her come to a life of petty fraud and drug addiction and homelessness?! (People who had helped her watched her end up homeless again and again, so something besides lack of money or opportunity was a part of the problem, I feel quite certain. Also, who loses 140 pounds in 9 months!?!?!)
While a tiny part of me feels karma came back around to bite her in the butt, most of me can't quite enjoy the news. And another part of me HATES that I can't just bask in bitchiness once in a while. Maybe when things were fresh and I was still angry at her it would have been more satisfying. But… Jeez! I just didn't care after a while, so now it just feels odd, and I mostly pity her.
But I also know better than to help her. What's broken in her I cannot fix and I accept my own limitation in this matter.