~ Anais Nin
In my last post, I described how my time at Kimkins was going well, and any problems that might have flitted around a corner of my mind quickly vanished from view, because we had good stories and successes of happy people every day. Like most members there, I never even visited the main front page, let alone any other diet sites, but simply spent time in my favorite forums. As far as I knew, all was well.
In August of last year, Kimmer unexpectedly sent me a $50 Amazon gift certificate as a 'thank you' for my presence on the site. That was a surprise, but most welcome. Then, in November, she sent me a PayPal gift of $200, as a 'thanksgiving' gift, then another $200 in December for a Christmas gift. I was pleased by her generosity, and it did come in very handy, because money was very tight and Christmas had been looking very bleak. To me, it seemed a Godsend.
Then, in January, the People magazine with Mary Smith (CartBabe) on the cover, mentioning Kimkins inside, came out. That, combined with a rash of New Year's Resolutions, spiked membership up. Kimmer preferred not to deal with all the newbies (saying, "I forget not everybody already knows low carb"), so she asked if I would like to serve officially as moderator for $300 a month, and I was glad to say yes, especially since I was working a job at WalMart that I greatly disliked, and I could cut my hours a little with that. However, she stressed that it came with no promises, so it could go away at any time, depending on how the site was doing. I was already doing so much posting on the site anyway, just like so many other members were doing, so if she wanted me to delete double posts and sticky threads while I was at it, that seemed easy. I was to be a contractor, she said, so my duties and hours were not clearly specified --- just whatever I thought the $300 monthly was worth. Well, honestly, I already put in more than that on the site, so I mostly carried on posting greetings to new members and replies to questions that came up, etc. From my viewpoint, nothing changed except I could cut my hours at the store a little now that the Christmas rush was over, and spend some extra time at home online.
Kimmer and I never spoke on the phone but rather communicated by PM or email whenever something came up, which might be three times one day, then not for a week and a half. Neither of us wanted a friendship; we both already knew we had our differences. She wanted my help, and I wanted to hang out on the site, so it worked out for both of us. I had a little 'official' moderator work to do for the $300, and other than than that, I was free to post when and where I wanted, like I had done before.
This went on until an event that marks for me 'the beginning of the end'. That event was the banning of Amy(Cutie) and Kiki in mid-April. Amy and Kiki are good people, and I have been pleased to call them my friends. They were at the site from the beginning, and were hugely valuable in setting the tone there, especially all the fun and 'sparkle'. Amy was especially helpful and supportive to Kimmer in many ways, and was closer to her than anyone there. When Amy and Kiki they told me they had been banned on the spot, without warning, for daring to wonder, in private messages, about some questionable before-and-after pics on the early success stories, I knew then Kimmer was a liar. I had known all three of them a long time by then, and I never for one moment doubted Amy and Kiki or believed Kimmer as to why they were suddenly not there. Their word was good enough for me; had it not been, they had the emails to prove it.
I didn't know at that time if the pictures were fake or not. They went up after I joined, I think, or, if not, I hadn't paid them much attention. I followed my friends over, was happy, and never poked outside to look around much. Others had, though, and talk was starting to filter in, and Amy and Kiki had heard it, and were privately wondering. When I looked closer, I wondered, too, why some of them looked 'iffy', and why some of the people had never posted on the site. Kimmer offered some semi-plausible answers, and I did know we had lots of good, REAL success stories that had come through the site, including some I met in real life. So, it was kind of, sort of, almost easy to dismiss the shaky pictures, on the grounds that it would be crazy and pointless to dilute the potency of real success stories with fakes. What I could not dismiss, however, was Kimmer's outright violation of her stated promise to all the members that she could not and would not ever read PMs. (This had been a real sore spot for a lot of us when we left LCF.) I knew I could not see member PMs then, and I had believed Kimmer when she had said she could not either. So, now I knew that she was willing and able to lie to her members with a straight face and a smile, and cut off her closest 'friends' without a backwards glance. At the time, I thought it was more personal between the immediate parties. I simply had no idea how far the deception would ultimately go.
Here is the bad part, and I am deeply ashamed of this: I did not quit the site. I was hurt, confused, bewildered, and angry. My first instinct was to stomp out with my friends, just out of loyalty. But, I didn't. I didn't quite know why I didn't then, and I still don't. I should have. But my loyalties were divided. I was torn between my care for those friends, my care for the friends I would leave behind, my family's need for the money, and my selfish desire for peace and comfort. Mostly, it just didn't feel like the right timing. Here is what I said in an email at the time:
I know I will part ways with Kimmer sooner or later.
But, I have been burned a lot, and am leery of hasty
decisions made under emotional duress. I will take it
slowly and find my way. Anyway, what I do there is not
really for HER, anyway. It is for the members, and for
me. It happens to suit her for now, but it is not
ABOUT her, if that makes sense.
You ARE my friend! I miss you terribly! [deleted personal comments]
But, in fairness, you are not my only friend there.
I've spent almost a year with my challenge buddies
now. Supporting you would mean ditching them. That is
not a happy thought, either.
And, I don't know if I am up to starting a mass exodus
It is just a lot for me to process right now, and I am
taking my time with dealing with it. Maybe that is a
cop-out, but I am not ready to cause any more partings
or separations right now. I've had enough painful
partings for a while, and will chicken out of making
any more, if I can help it.
I would like to think that my waiting then, and leaving when I did worked to serve some greater purpose . . . and maybe it did.
If so, it was no thanks to me.
Please forgive me, my dear friends!