So, I went to counseling recently… TEAM VULNERABLE HERE… Yes BLACK WOMEN DO COUNSELING TOO! Rolling my eyes at everyone who just withdrew my “Strong Black Women” card!
But why did I even just do that? I just countered my efforts to live emotionally healthy with a side note that ‘y’all probably think I’m weak out here in these streets.‘
Watch my lips move in slow motion here with a clap in between each syllable… IN-KNEE-WAY…
I don’t care. I’m totally being defensive on this side of the screen, because I was EMBARRASSED when I started going to counseling (cough-a few years ago-cough). In fact, I felt like, my prayer life must be off and how come I can’t just ‘keep it together?’ Because that’s what black women do right? “We carry the world on our shoulders and then we squat that -ish!”
I would wonder, “God, why can’t you just ‘reveal my issues’ to me and then ‘heal me?’ Right? Wrong. — Ok, not wrong — but it wasn’t the case for ‘this issue.’
I wanted to know why I was this crappy friend.
Like seriously, if you’ve ever met that chick who was ride or die with you and a few months down the line, she was barely responding to your texts, you had met me. #DontJudgeMyVulnerabilityPlease
What was I doing to the good friends in my life? and WHY was I doing it? I needed my counselor to give me an answer and very quickly too. Like hurry up and diagnose me, so I can be on my journey to becoming a better friend, because right now— my friends don’t trust me. They think I will walk away from them any moment, and they’re right. *sigh*
DISCLAIMER: There ARE some exceptions to this friendship rule. For example, Ms.McCullough, we met in college, on a Wednesday and by Friday, we were road tripping it to an Essence conference in Atlanta. Ok, it was only a 5 hour drive… but that was a long time to be in a car with someone I had only met 48 hours ago… my point is, she’s still around almost 10 years later.
Now, moving on…
I got my wake up call when I returned home from a recent trip abroad. I was catching up on my text messages, and noticed that one of my ‘friends’ hadn’t texted me the entire time I was away.
So, I reached out to her with my very ‘caring’ text message… You still breathing?
Not expecting anything more than a “yeah girl!”, instead she said… “I’ve been in the hospital for the last 10 days, I was having a personal health crisis and it affected my boys, one of the twins heart rate had began to drop, so the doctors had an emergency c-section to remove them early.” —- “Oh and my 30th birthday is today!”
And the worst friend of the year award goes to….
I was stunned. Of course I didn’t text her back, we Face-timed. With her hospital bed propped up and IV’s in her arm, we managed to find a few things to laugh about.
We hung up, and all I could think was… “OHH-EEMMM-GGEEE!” I started to feel guilty! Like, “If I was a better friend to her all these years, maybe I would’ve gotten a call from her husband to let me know what was going on?” OR at least a text from her that said anything! Anyway, they had so much going on…and obviously texting Mac wasn’t at the top of their priority list…I get it!
What am I going to do? I need to be there for this girl… whatever that means.
I woke up at 6am the next morning, picked up some flowers and I drove to New Jersey. Whoever lives in the tri-state, you know how very unpleasant that traffic can be, hence my bright and early departure.
We talked, we laughed, we smiled… I helped her pump breast milk (not really though, I just labeled the bottles with her long behind Greek last name), I made her breakfast and we did what two girlfriends do… we talked until our saliva dried up.
One visit and one bouquet of flowers doesn’t un-do the ‘years of crappy friendship’ I’ve offered her, but it’s the beginning of something … I’m grateful for her forgiveness.
Honey, I’m sorry that I wasn’t the best friend you had always hoped we would be. You’ve always looked out for me. You picked me out of the crowd 10 years ago and decided you would love me. You haven’t stopped. I can’t undo what I’ve done, but I’m here now… promising to give this friendship (and all others) a much better effort.
…and as for my counseling session, my crappy friend tendencies boiled down to one word… trust.
When I don’t trust, I withdraw out of fear and I withhold information. It’s a defense mechanism. Am I the only one? It’s actually become quite scary how easily and quickly I can and will walk away from relationships. That’s not normal. It was a learned behavior I had picked up over the years that I thought was “just Mac.”
So, all this “cut people off and do you” mess needs to be handled in BALANCE. When people are good to you, you don’t cut them off…You deal with YOUR mess, come back and apologize to them, hope they forgive you and try to work towards a more healthy relationship.
My issues of trust, have nothing to do with her, but a reoccurrence of the junk in my past that I had re-assigned to her and so many other people in my life.
I was thrilled to discover this place in counseling. Does that mean all my trust issues disappear? Of course not, but now I’m more self aware when I’m making choices out of that place and I can choose to respond differently… and not by default.
So, give me back my ‘strong black woman’ card… only a sucker won’t go find out what their issues are and learn to live a more emotionally healthy life. However you decide to do it… totally up to you … but just go and do it!
Some of your relationships are waiting for the better you!
You may not struggle in your friendships… but maybe you do in your romantic relationships, family relationships, or even as an employee….whatever it is…
I challenge you to get vulnerable with yourself (or a counselor) and do right by the people in your life.
The Naked Writer
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