Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Unwind

Nothing in my 20 years of business and rescue prepared me for last Sunday's Executive meeting.  I'm a self-professed "tough cookie".  I've been through high kill shelters and have held my own beloved pets as they passed over.  I hurt, but I bounce. 

Spending the better part of a beautiful Sunday with women who shared the same passion sounded like the right place to be.  I spent $20.00 in gasoline and drove 1 hour to the meeting place, after dropping off a cat at a local Petsmart store.  With my plate of veggies and dip in my lap I listened dutifully as we went through the agenda. 

One woman who serves on the board, is basically the board piriah.  Nobody likes her, and some offer the periodic eyeball roll, and sympathetic email post-meeting.  They put up with her because she serves the job within the rescue that nobody wants to do. 

She blindsided me that beautiful Sunday afternoon, by bringing up an offensive email that I sent 2 weeks ago.  Rather than telling me that she was offended at the time the email was sent, she build up 2 weeks worth of hostility and verbally attacked me at the meeting.  Please know, that we usually anticipate this person to do something completely socially stupid at these meetings.  It's expected.  What I didn't expect is that while this woman was berating me on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, I watched in horror as my peers said nothing as they watched this drama unfold.  They were practically whistling at the ceiling. 

I felt humiliated.  I couldn't speak as I choked back the tears.  Eventually, I excused myself to go cry in the washroom.  Honestly, nothing I said in that email warranted that sort of behaviour.   Surely when I went back to the meeting, somebody would say *something* to reassure me.  No.  They had gone onto the next topic.

I work 40-60 hours per week for this rescue for free.  I'm at my computer at 7:30 am, and am still working at 10 pm - 7 days per week.   I'm the only one that was available during the day.  My gasoline bill was $800.00 per month.  I waited for two days for somebody to explain to me what happened.  

Nobody called.  It was silent.  My heart and soul hurt like never before. 

I made a terrible mistake.  I thought that these women were my friends - I felt used and humiliated.  I mistook a business relationship for friendship.  Silly me. 

After careful consideration and lots of tears, I sent in my resignation on Tuesday.  I didn't expect that  pushing the "Send" button would give me a feeling of freedom that I hadn't felt in a long time. 

Finally today, I received the token email  from the board's 19 year old board member, who obviously drew the short straw: 
"The remaining executive would like to thank you for your commitment to (the rescue).
We respect your request to resign and hope that your future endeavors in cat rescue work will prove fruitful for you."

"Fruitful"?  Really? 

I woke up this morning to an unfamiliar feeling of relief.  I didn't check my email until 10 a.m, and I went to a bookstore and read one of my new books by the fire this afternoon.  It was heavenly.  I put my hair in hot rollers and cleaned out my cosmetic drawer. 

As I unwind my deep roots within this rescue, I am comforted by the lesson that I learned.  At almost 50 years old, I didn't think there was that much life could still teach me. 

But life has a different plan for me.  You'll see... :)


Becki said...

I'm so sorry, Beth! Without you, that rescue loses something very special.

Anonymous said...

If you're leaving, my monthly donations to the rescue will stop too.

Julie said...

Don't let them get you down, Beth. They don't hold a candle to your class or pizzazz.


Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Dedication can so suck -

BUT we can't be what we aren't -

I'm sure THIS happening for a reason will lead to something bigger better with MORE purr power -

I'd have been in the bathroom crying with you - it hurts when idiots attack -

I'll be looking for the NEXT chapter!

Kea said...

I've not been following your blog that long, Beth, so I can't comment on the politics. Other than to say that no matter what the organization or mission, ego and petty power-mongering and politics *always* interferes with what is for the Highest Good of All Concerned (in this case, predominantly the cats).

I'm sorry. Truly sorry.

And I learned in my 20s that you can have great co-workers, but that does not translate to true friendship.

I hope they have people equally dedicated to can pick up the mantle and carry on; I would hate to think the animals will suffer because of their politics (nothing to do with your resignation).

And, I, too, look forward to the next chapter in your life!

In the meantime, enjoy the much-needed down time. If all you are feeling is relief, you definitely made the right decision.

Universal Blessings and Peace.

Katy said...

I'm so proud of you!

It's hard to believe that classless, jealous bullies are still around after junior high. They thrive on beating others to the ground so they can stand taller.

You have so much to offer any job, relationship, and volunteer organization that I just know this isn't the end of rescue for you.

Enjoy this *you* time - you deserve it! Love you :)

Anonymous said...

There's a long list of people in this world who perhaps have dedicated so much time to supporting animals in need, that they neglect to support fellow group members.

I can only imagine what being a friend to someone as reputedly amazing as you can offer as a lesson in life. Any person who discourages your ability to be the person you have been to TCR surely has more than just one lesson to learn in life.

It's people like the woman you've described that put the 'crazy' in 'crazy cat lady' (not to say that there's a ton of 'crazy' cat men as well.)

You will surely be missed, not only for your help and support, but for your kindness and decency towards others who seemingly don't deserve it.

Crystal said...

I cannot wait to see the different plan life has for you:) I am sure if will be full of good stuff and maybe a cat or two...Thank you so much for your dedication to animals in need...

Cindy, Bertie, Sammy, O'Malley (a.k.a New Guy) said...

It is easy to say, but had I been there, I would have spoken up. *Nobody* should be spoken to the way you were spoken to in a *public* meeting. What the heck is wrong with these people keeping their mouth shut like that!

The way you've been treated is disgusting and *someone* should have had the balls to tell head-Harpy to get stuffed. The minute I heard you resigned, I knew it had to be something serious that triggered it. I just hadn't anticipated anything quite as mindbendingly crappy as this...

I think I will have to reconsider my position as a foster for this rescue. If this is the way they treat one of their most committed, most loyal volunteers, well, that says a lot about them.

My heart goes out to you Beth, it really does. I wish you all the strength in the world and please remember not everybody is as spineless, backstabbing and devoid of humanity as these people have shown to be. (If that was a little strongly worded, I apologise but I am just *so* angry...I can't even begin to imagine how you must feel)


Lacy said...

w0w, i sure didnt expect this when i clicked on your post...i dont comment a lot, but during my reads on your blog, i can tell u are for the kitties...i cant believe those people were that mean..just know that all the kitties u saved, thank you..and like Khyra said, something better is coming for u...


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Beth! This could end up being a huge mistake for them. I "followed" you to this rescue... Chances are, I'd follow you to another. I've always felt like it was you - not the rescue, really - that found me my fosters. And it's definitely you who's helped me most when I've needed it. You're the one who sends personal, helpful replies that reassure me I'm not just an idiot, and never just quick, curt ones. And if they can hurt you like this... Well, I have a problem I can't quite lay out in words. Please, keep us posted.


Anonymous said...

That absolutely sucks, Beth. I'm really sorry, and I hope that the future plans still involve animals rescue. Even if people are horrendous, the animals still need you. And at least *they* are extremely appreciative of all your hard work. :D

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

I certainly hope you let them know why you were resigning...because despite the idea that anyone with any sense would know, some won't! I hope they realize, too, what they've lost and let 'Ms Harpy' have it with both barrels now. Yeah, to little to late. So, off to the next adventure. By the way, I have three adorable late season kittens in my foster room with their sweet momma cat at the moment. I'm in heaven!

Heather said...

Nobody deserves to be humiliated and belittled in front of others. Especially somebody that works as hard as you did.

Did you ever hear from the President of the rescue?

Anonymous said...

Who lets a 19 serve as a board member? What kind of rescue is this?

Anonymous said...

You were always there for me Beth and put up with all my stupid questions. Nobody else in this rescue seemed to care about me. You were the only one that made me feel good about what I was doing.

Anonymous said...

Talk about "cutting off your nose to spite your face."

Fucking jerks.

Jan's Funny Farm said...

What a shame. Unfortunately, they will probably just go on and pull a similar stunt on someone else. We too look forward to seeing what is next for you.

Anonymous said...

I've been with this rescue for years and have put up with similar abuse. I stay with it for the cats, but maybe there's something better out there for both of us.

Dave said...

You were the one that taught me about being a rescue person.

I can hardly wait to find out what's next for you. People like that won't hold you down for long.

Anonymous said...

I've always believed that I was valued and appreciated in this rescue, but then I thought you were as well. This certainly opens my eyes

Erika said...

Good for you Beth, I'm glad that you stood up for yourself, and I hope you find a better rescue to work with. And yes I'm assuming that you will eventually get back into working with another rescue or fostering since it seems to be a passion of yours.

It is upsetting that no one stuck up for you when it counted. Typing their appreciation anonymously on a blog isn't quite the same thing. I hope that the rescue realizes their mistake in losing you but I also hope that their mistakes do not harm the cats which they are supposed to be helping.

Good Luck and I hope to hear all about your new adventures!

Dave (and Simone) said...

Being in animal rescue isn't about being affiliated with an organisation. It's about compassion for our friends who are overlooked by human culture. You're responsible not only for the animals you've rescued personally, but also for those who have been rescued by those you've inspired.

Enjoy your rest. I'm sure there are more animals and humans out there that will benefit from your kindness.

Carolyn said...

It's sad to read that some people who have little tact and communiciation skills get away with what they do, without even a slap on the wrist. I would have cried right in front of them had it happened to me. Your dedication and generosity has touched your readers in ways that extend to so many lives, human and feline. It's good to read that you're being kind to yourself and getting ready for a new chapter in your own book! I'm sorry this happened to you. I enjoyed meeting you when we met to swap cats in cars. Keep us all posted! Hugs :)

Beki said...

Beth, They are morons. I am so sorry. This has been such a hellish week for so many people. They will miss you. They clearly do not understand who you are to the rescue world. I really wish people would have the gonads to step up when it counts, from calling people out when they litter, to standing up for and to someone who has gone off on someone without just cause. Rest, heal. There is a world of rescue outside of TCR that is yours if you so choose.

Anonymous said...

Wow..Beth you were instrumental in my deciding to volunteer for this rescue group. You spoke to me with warmth, compassion and understood the urgency (and silly panic questions -- even if you were being assaulted by random newbies on facebook :)

I will watch closely to see where you go and will be close behind should you put a call out for help or volunteers!

Anonymous said...

Good for you !!! Let the rescue function without you and then they will see how difficult it is and how much you have done for them.
This is their loss, not yours.
I hate when life throws those kinds of lessons our way lol, but I guess that's how we learn.
Now please !!! start your own rescue !!!

Anonymous said...

Please know that you have enriched my life enormously by bringing a certain cat into my life. I hope that you will start your own rescue, and I will support it.

Sparkle said...

That's too bad you had to go through this. Oddly enough, someone else my human knows had issues with the rescue SHE was volunteering for... and it came to a head and she quit. And then she started her own rescue and she is clearly having a far more gratifying time saving kitties without the headaches she had to deal with before. Not to say she is working any less hard or having different headaches, but she is definitely on a different and better track. So I know whatever is coming in your future, it will undoubtedly be just as right.

Kristen said...

We all would have stuck up for you, Beth. And I have faith that you have your own plans and path that will still do well for the souls that need it. Good luck, and we all support you!!! You've created a little community out of your efforts and I for one, look forward to what is in that pretty little head!!!

To see a person put forth the effort, emotion, money and time you have for a cause and watch someone berate it over getting their feelings hurt is beyond me. You'd think people working in rescue would know what is IMPORTANT and be past highschool drama. Guess some people never grow out of it. Stay strong, girlie!!! Fuck 'em!! (Yeah, I said it!)

Bella and Daisy's mom said...

I love your blog! I'm sorry things happened like this, but where there is an organization there is politics.

I hope you take some time off and use this month's 800 bucks on something fun for you and your family.

Look forward to see what's going to happen next!

Ellstar said...

I just hope all these comments reinforce how many people do appreciate and understand what you are doing. Even if they don't. The kitties most of all.

Darlene said...

I'm shocked and saddened. What the hell were these people thinking?

But I know that you will continue to do wonderful things for the kitties of this world. You can't help yourself.

You are bigger than they are. There are more important things in life than cold, cruel, petty people.

I'm so sorry.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that this happened to you. The rescue will not be the same with out you. I've always admired your hard work and dedication to the kitties. Your absence will be missed.

HomeToMany said...

Beth that is just awful what happened. In my experience with rescue the people that do the most work always seem to get shit on because they are "not nice enough", "too aggressive", "not doing enough". I left my rescue after a few years for similar reasons. I don't know why they all can't see the big picture. But we all know that you are always destined for great things, so I can't wait to see what you do next, I have a feeling it is still going to have to do with our little furry friends!!!
All the best, chin up, move on to bigger and better things. Thinking of you.

Deb said...

My experience with rescues over the years has made me realize that it takes all kinds and for all different reasons people get involved in helping animals. Sometimes it is because they can't relate or get along with people so they are drawn to those that cannot speak for themselves. Sounds like this woman falls in that category. Emotions run high when you are dealing with little lives and I too have seen people leave meeting in tears and slamming doors never to return. It saddens me to see this as there are not enough people who can give of themselves like you do to help cats. You have to try not to take it personally and get on with your plans. There is something better in store for you. I can feel it. Hugs, Deb =^..^=x5

Anonymous said...

Oh Beth I am so sorry - I have worked with pardon the pun "catty" b***ches too and I will never put up with crap and games again - they made a HUGE mistake please keep us posted on what you will be doing - maybe your own rescue - I follow you every day on your blog and it's great - Big Hug - Patti, Mocha, Luna & Hobo

Ashem said...

I am so sad when politics and petty bs gets in the way of rescuing cats. I am sorry this happened to you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear they were such jerks Beth. What they don't know is that they haven't just lost you, they've lost the respect and most likely some foster homes and donations of a lot of people who know and love you.

I bet all the people who follow your blog would support and help you if you decided to continue saving cats on your own.

You could call it "Hamilton Cat Rescue" maybe?

I'd certainly be there for you...

Anonymous said...


I cannot believe this happened to you. I really hope you don't take it personal and see it for what it is - silly women who think they are still in high school.

I will no longer support this rescue b/c as far as I am concerned YOU were the rescue.

From reading the other comments I can see that this rescue will have a dwindle in support however I will be ready to support you anyway I can when and if you start your own rescue or join another rescue. I will need to direct my love of cats and other animals somewhere :)

Beth you do amazing work and all of the readers of your blog see and know this truth.

Thanks to you I have foster cats with TCR and I even ended up adopting one of my fosters.

You were the one I turned to with my questions regarding my fosters. You always answered me right away.

You were also the one I provided with updates on my fosters and you posted them on your blog.

I wish you the best of luck and I cannot wait to hear what your next project is.

Now I need to remove my email address from their mailing list...

Anonymous said...

Beth- I am happy you resigned from this place. Now you can do something where you are appreciated and where you can still save some little furbabies(maybe start your own rescue and save from the hellhole rural shelter?- just an idea) You are an amazing person and when i had to go through putting my beautiful Beckham down(who you rescued) you assured me I was doing the right thing. When the time came you helped me find my next little man and he is the best little guy EVER! You are a great person and i KNOW its only a matter of time before you do something bigger and BETTER where nobody can treat you like garbage :)

Anonymous said...

I am in tears right now reading this. I could never have imagined how much drama goes on in cat rescue until I began volunteering for one. I made the friendship mistake too, but I had not invested as many years into it as you had. Still, it stings. I can't believe the way you were treated and it really upsets me. I have dealt with you within the rescue and you were nothing but kind and helpful to me. We e-mailed back and forth one afternoon - you answered right away and you did not stop responding until you knew that my foster cats were okay and taken care of. You really cared. You have no idea how much you helped and how much that meant to me.
What happened was wrong. You will be greatly missed, but I think you made the right choice. Thank you for doing what you do and for sticking up for yourself.

Lorna said...

Oh, Beth - I just found out that you resigned, and came here to your blog to figure out what happened. I'm so sorry! What an awful experience. I can really identify with the sense of relief that you describe. You've really got to take care of yourself if you're going to be able to take care of others.

And thank you for rescuing Pixie - she's all filled out and shiny now! Hunting squirrels through the window... :-)

Colleen said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you were treated so shabbily, Beth. It sounds like the TCR was taking you for granted, as sometimes - unfortunately - happens when organizations aren't as well run as they should be and petty people wield too much power over others.

You did the right thing in resigning; you absolutely didn't deserve that kind of treatment. I sure hope to hear of, say, the all new Halton-Hamilton Cat Rescue soon! (Hint, hint!)

LL and I are just picking up 4 more kittens tonight, but we will switch over to any new venture that you spearhead in a heartbeat (once the little darlings find permanent homes, of course).

All the best,