One of the longest, most intimate, time-consuming, ridiculous, heart-wrenching and powerful relationships in my life is with a woman … and I’m not talking about my Mother. Actually two women. For nearly 20 years, I have been in love with two women. They have been my road dogs, my confidents, my diary, my sounding board, my fashion advisors, my edifiers, my good times, my shoulder to cry on and my “do you remember that time when …” partners. We have experienced just about everything you can possibly imagine and we’ve done it all together. Men have come and go. Jobs have come and go. Other chicks that thought they understood friendship have come and go. Through it all, we have been hopelessly committed to each other. We made a pact years ago that no matter what comes and no matter how much it hurts, we will love each other and ALWAYS be honest with each other until the last of us takes her last breath. We’re a tripod. Together we’re powerful and can do anything.
No sooner than you make that level of commitment to another person, you will be tested. It’s as if the universe, Murphy’s Law and the devil all sit down for drinks and say, “Okay. These bitches think they want to be friends for LIFE. *insert doubled over, finger pointing laughter* Well, let’s see just how bad they want it and what they’re willing to endure to have it. Five bucks say they’ll have destroyed each other by the time we’re done with ‘em.”
In the beginning, things were good. We argued sometimes, but we always got over it. Hell, two of us even got into a physical fight over a broken VCR. Chile … THAT was a day. But, we moved on. We always did. We stuck together and got through the tough times as one. Then, one day, things changed.
I fell in love. Hard. And my love was moving to Los Angeles for a new job. Not only did he decide to move, but he declared and decreed that he wanted me with him. Steve Harvey says a man shows his love by “professing, protecting and providing.” He did ALL of that and then some. So, I moved to California to begin my new life. I don’t know that I fully assessed how it would affect my tripod. I thought they’d be happy for me, and though we wouldn’t see each other as often, things wouldn’t change. There’d be more phone calls and budgeting to fly to see each other, but we’d be fine. Boy was I wrong.
In every relationship, there is a “star”. The person that everything revolves around. The person that brings the fun. The person whose participation is necessary in order for the group to have a great time. The person whose opinion weighs the most. The person everyone comes to for advice and leans on for stability. In our tripod, that person is me and I had NO idea. Well … maybe a small idea, but I don’t think I realized the responsibility that role carries. I was off living a “fabulous” life in Los Angeles. The other two were home missing me and feeling shredded by my decision to leave. While they were happy for me and in awe of my bravery to follow my heart, they were also a bit disgruntled that I not only contemplated leaving, but I actually did it. Little did they know I was completely miserable. I missed them so much that I cried every night the first six months I was gone. I wanted so desperately to have my love, my career, my family and my girls. I wanted it all, but life wasn’t working out that way. I felt like I had to be happy with only two thirds of the life I wanted. I finally brushed away the tears and decided to move forward. I loved my girls. I knew that would never change. I no longer wanted to miss present blessings wishing for something different. I had to grow up, put my “big girl panties on” and live.
When I moved, the distance created the opportunity for negativity, judgment and resentment to creep in. If felt like every five seconds we were in a silent fight about something stupid. You know what a silent fight is, right? It’s the fight you have without actually fighting. No one actually verbalizes a hurt or disappointment. Instead you are “chilly” with each other over the phone and smoothly throw “shade” with a chuckle and a “Girl, you know I’m just playing with you!” Meanwhile, you’re talking to the other friend about “this bitch this” and “this bitch that”. Yeah … there was a LOT of that happening. And it was beginning to take it’s toll. You could feel the shift happening though none of us wanted to consider that we were … growing apart? Nah! That’s not possible! We vowed unconditional love for life, right?
Years later we (Hubby and I) finally moved back to the South. We were all so happy because we just KNEW things were going to be just as they were before I left. We were closer so we could see each other anytime we wanted. We could just pick up where we left off. Yeah … that didn’t happen. I had a career and they had new lives. They had introduced new friends (something I was NOT at ALL happy about). I was married and soon to have a baby. We weren’t in college anymore. We were adults. If we were going to have that close bond we once shared, it was going to take a lot of effort … effort that neither of us was willing to give.
Then, it happened. The fight. You knew it was coming, right? 🙂
One day (and I remember this day so clearly) I was called by one member of the tripod and told that she didn’t like my attitude. She said I was acting “high and mighty” all the time. She said that I was judging her and “feeling some kind of way” about her life choices. She was tired of the shade I was throwing and wanted to put the sh*t out there. Now, you should know that the day she decided to hit me with these headlines about her feelings, I was at the mall shopping for an evening gown because I was to be honored by an amazing organization at the Beverly Hills Hotel. This was a HUGE moment in my life. And she knew that. In my mind, she ruined something very important to me to call me and tell me some sh*t that didn’t amount to much. She wasn’t calling to tell me she was dying. To me, and I am giving you my side at the moment, she wasn’t telling me what she was REALLY mad about. Instead, she was creating a fight about some completely unsolvable sh*t in her head because she wasn’t brave enough to tell me what she was REALLY freaking mad about. And. That. Pissed. Me. Off. World War III was officially on and popping. I was now mad at her. She was mad at me. Our other friend was stuck in the middle trying desperately (and failing) not to take sides. The legs of our tripod had been kicked out and we didn’t give a damn.
We became frenemies. We still spoke on the phone, but not as much. We were there to support the BIG moments in each other’s lives like birthdays and child birth, but our hearts weren’t in it. Truth be told, we only did it so that “that bitch can’t say I wasn’t there for her BIG moment”. And what’s worse, we were tearing each other apart. Things got bad. Real bad. We went from rarely speaking to total radio silence. I was a new Mom and desperately wanted her to be a part of all of the special moments she was missing, but pride wouldn’t let me call. Pride wouldn’t let me admit that I still needed her. It was like one of those T.V. moments when Good and Evil pop up on your shoulder. Good told me to call my friend because I missed her. Apologize for hurting her and move forward. Evil told me that this man-less, jealous bitch could kick rocks with open-toed shoes down a dirt road in KKK country. I sided with Evil. Ridiculous.
Though I moved on, I was in agony. It was like someone had chopped off one of my limbs and I was feeling phantom pain from where it used to live. Even my smile was hollow. I was totally and completely miserable. It was that moment I decided to let God in. I finally got on my knees and prayed about it. I decided to get past my sh*t, and again, grow up. I told Him that I didn’t know how to get past my own hurt to love her unconditionally as I pledged years ago. I didn’t know how to just let it all go and move on. So much had happened. So many awful things had been said. How could I possibly right the wrong? Could we really move forward? Unconditional love sounds good, but the work that’s required to provide it feels impossible sometimes.
After much prayer, God finally revealed to me ALL of the things I’d done to hurt my friend. It was like a “Who’s Who” list of all my sh*t. I was horrified. He showed me how I’d taken her for granted. How I’d thrown my life choices in her face and judged when she didn’t parallel her life to mine. He showed me how I’d left her alone when I knew all she needed was a call, but I didn’t feel I had time or just didn’t feel like being bothered. He told me (and this makes me cry even as I type this) that I’d literally broken her heart. She needed me and I abandoned her. I went off to my “fabulous” life in California, rubbed it in her face and never checked in on her. When we did talk, I was passive aggressive (a skill I learned from my mother) and made things seem like she was causing our fight. I changed and I didn’t take her along on the journey. I “grew up” and I punished her for not being clairvoyant. I wronged her. I hurt her deeply and had the nerve to be angry about the way she tried to communicate it. I valued my “moment in the sun” Beverly Hills awards ceremony over her needing me. I turned my back, walked head high into my destiny and never looked to my side to make sure she was still with me.
When she called that day I should have dropped everything and ran to her. Why? Because I promised her I would. The moment she tested that, I dropped the ball like Braylon Edwards. I was ashamed. So, so ashamed. I’d charged her with the responsibility of being the friend I was unwilling to be. I expected her to live a truth I was unwilling to accept. I expected perfection from her, but accepted huge, gaping flaws in myself. I’d even wrote her a letter (standing very tall on a soap box) and made the future of our friendship her decision by way of her immature, unloving choices. Yeah, y’all. I went there. ALL the way there.
Long story short, I made it right. After understanding my role in the breakdown of our relationship, I realized what was required to make it right. It took maturity and most importantly it took humility. I had to humble myself and be wrong. No ifs, ands or buts. I had to make up for all the ways I destroyed the most precious thing in my life.
I am proud to say we fixed things and we are stronger than ever. I’ve learned how to really and truly love my friends. I understand that loving them doesn’t mean shoving my opinions down their throat, only accepting them when they agree that I’m right or when they play into my ego of being our “star”. Loving them is being willing to be Robin instead of Batman. Hell, sometimes it’s being neither. There are times when your role is to play background to the background. Sometimes, you’re only the grip on the set of the movie and you definitely get no love during the Oscar speech: still important, but there’s no prize or acknowledgment for your contribution to the journey. Loving them is lovingly sharing the truth they need in the moment when their spirit is open to receive it and not shoving it down their throats because “it’s the truth and she needs to hear it now!” Even if that means not sharing the truth at all for a time and allowing them to reach it on their own. My 20-year history with these women has taught me so much about my ability to love, but more importantly, it has been my greatest joy. I am who I am because these women carried me to this place. They’ve always been my safe place to land. It’s tough to fail with that type of safety net in life.
Real, true unconditional love is the hardest love because is it a perfect love. It’s a Godly love. I challenge you to audit your life and find those places where you’re failing to provide it. Once you reach an understanding of the responsibility to give it and receive it, you’ll reach … heaven.
All the best, AskThePRGirl