“About My Best Friend”

“About My Best Friend”

Growing up, everybody had that one friend that was their Ace-in-the-Hole, their Ride-or-Die BFF! I definitely had mine. Unfortunately, from a very young age I had learned all the wrong ideas of being socially acceptable. I developed the concept that being a friend meant having to push my own identity aside and become whatever kind of person they accepted as a “friend”. I put up with a lot of unnecessary drama, selfishness and blame just to call this person my best friend because I needed to be accepted by any means necessary.

Do you have any idea what it’s like growing up and being constantly compared to someone else? It’s no walk in the park. I took the heat for multiple situations, throwing myself under the bus to protect a friendship. I was looked upon as the bad influence for years and although she called me her best friend I was never treated like one. I believed being a true friend meant taking the fall, embracing a bad reputation, and being in the line of fire; because that’s what friendship was all about, at least to me. I did this for so long that it became a routine and a learned condition, I didn’t know any better. It made matters worse that our families were tight knit. I was damaging my own reputation to my family for the sake of having a title of best friend. Long term, I was reinforcing someone I was completely unlike yet being told to be more like her, if only they knew then what they still don’t know about her now.
As we got older and more friends were added to the social circle, there were plenty of times that I had to defend my BFF spot. I couldn’t grasp the concept that “my spot” should not have to be defended; rather a spot that has been well-earned and solidified. I found myself continuously having to prove my friendship when the loyalty was never reciprocated. She led, I followed. She liked, I liked. She hated, I hated. She got in trouble, I took the blame. When she would extract me from her life to be with other friends, I would wait. In those moments, I found my own friends. I did my own thing, too! I started coming out of my shell and started gradually becoming more comfortable in my own skin.
One thing I have learned in this walk of life is that in every situation there is a lesson to be learned. Opportunity gives you that one moment of clarity but you have to pay attention and recognize the situation for what it is. I put myself on the line for her, protected her even when she least deserved it. My downfall was that I confided in her every secret and deepest emotion and she used it against me. Even with everything I already knew about her and the consistencies of failing me as a friend, I still gave her 100% trust and allowed myself to be placed in unnecessary situations. She caused an altercation with another friend over a guy and let an unnecessary argument unfold. Classic mean-girl tactic. The whole time she stood there, grinning, borderline laughing and watched me crumble. I held back my anger like a fool because even at that eye-opening epiphany, I still felt the need to prove I was the better friend. When you are young and don’t have a handle on how to approach a situation, sometimes you freeze and let the moment take you instead of you taking on the moment. I should have punched her in the face, yet I took the high road and started evaluating my friendship.
For years, this friendship carried on exactly the same way. I kept consuming the blame for her shortfalls until finally I reached the end of my rope and gave up. When I needed her to be there for me, to be in the line of fire, to do her due diligence as my best friend, she failed. We went separate ways, separate religious views, separate complete lives! I was not her Maid of Honor; our kids don’t even know each other. There are no family barbeques together or play dates. No invitations to birthday parties or anniversaries. We never shared in any epic milestone moments in our lives and for all those years I felt absolutely cheated. It took me a long time to understand that in this life you will come across people in your life that really are not for you and will never take responsibility for their roles in your life. I’ve learned to let it go and welcome a much bigger picture that I took responsibility for and made my peace with it all.
Time is a gem. There’s no reset button, no do-overs, but it gives you valuable lessons to be learned. People come and go and it is completely acceptable. Never invalidate or be so dismissive when people show you what they are capable of. Be mindful of the company you keep. Those who you call “friend” can come into your life, masked as anything you need them to be and benefit from everything you are. So what about my best friend? I had none. But at least I was one.

“In Between”

Life is short and fleeting.  I have spent way too much of my time being the person that makes no waves and is perfectly content on being the compliment in someone else’s life; never say or do too much in order to keep them close because I was afraid of losing them.  Without hesitation I was the friend that always came through and in return was let down consistently.  Being accepted came with a hefty price.  When that no longer mattered to me, I became the “bitter one” or the “selfish one” and somewhere in between, was the real me.

Maturity is a crazy thing.  Once you surpass everything that is superficial and become a realist, you start to see people for who they are.  Once you’ve reached a level in your life that make you not give a single care about acceptance or how you are perceived, the connections with most people begin to fade and emotional freedom begins.  People talk about being real but when real slaps them in the face they can’t accept you for who you are.  They’d rather chase a dream, compare their life to what could’ve been and when someone real that has their best interest at heart is in front of their face, they push them away.  In a society filled with an abundance of fakeness they would rather live a lie than work hard at truth.  Being yourself is a challenge that takes courage, especially when you are not what people expect.  You lose some friends along the way but if I have to lose myself to gain acceptance then they were never meant to stay. Girl BYE AND BYE NOW! (Insert eye roll here) 

You probably are wondering where I am going with all of this.  Well, here it is: we all – at some point – wear masks to hide our insecurities and fears.  I learned that those who travel with you in the same walk of life may not be interested in your courage to accept your flaws.  They would rather embrace your mask because they are not interested in the real you, only their perception of you.  Truth be told, when you give yourself freely with no hidden agendas or inconsistencies, people walk away from you because you are too good to be true; they are too busy concentrating on your flaws than the realness that makes you raw.

The moment I began to live my life like an open book, I was judged and made to feel I had something to prove because people like me are almost nonexistent. When you’re a “what you see is what you get” type of person, people will always try to find something more to your story when there isn’t anything more to uncover.  Their own insecurities wont allow them to see that. How incredibly sad it is to reject who’s for you because all you know is what is against you! They are too busy counteracting the upper hand they think you are trying to have over them when all you want to do is be hand-in-hand WITH them.  People are so afraid of what’s real and will not commit or be open to taking chances.  They talk a good game, but the reality is they are always looking for the greener grass on the other side instead of maintaining the one they already have.  When you encounter anyone that is giving you 100% of whom they are and shows genuine interest in the real you, that person is a permanent root in your life and not the leaf that blows in the wind as you depict them to be .  Recognize real for what it is.

I no longer live my life in between.  What you see is what you get.  I will not jeopardize my happiness in order to make someone else content by consistently having to prove who I am.  The dynamic of a relationship takes sacrifice and a rare characteristic called “honesty”.  There is no in-between! Life is precious and can’t be wasted waiting for someone to come along when sometimes all you have todo is look up and see what is in front of your face or within you.  Keep your past in your past and don’t allow aspirations of what could have been detour you from where you are supposed to be.  Most importantly, when people show you who they are, believe them!

 

Growing Up With Religion

The earliest memory I have is of my mother reading the Holy Bible to me.  My mother was adamant that I have an understanding that God was real and every glorious creation was His to claim.  I remember my fascination and awe of God;  My mind often wandering of how wonderful this Paradise must be and my mind filled with the imagination of its beauty.  I envisioned the golden gates and being surrounded by graceful Angels, as I would enter into an eternal life of everlasting love.  I have read many fascinating stories of the Bible with my mother, however there was nothing loving or beautiful living up to the expectations of its teachings.  Fear, detachment, and falling short of my own identity I owe to religion.

My mother was a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and thereafter 2 or 3 other faiths.  Yes, I was ringing your doorbells helping my mother spread the good news about Jesus from home to home, one pamphlet at a time.  It was all I knew.  I was 4 years old and clueless.  I was taught at the age of 4 to believe this is how to get into Heaven.  Ridiculous isn’t it?  Here is where detachment comes in.

My life consisted of my parents and church, that’s it.  I had 3 older siblings of 15 years in age difference that my parents distanced me from because they were “sinners”.  I never had a normal sibling relationship because in order to please God and my parents, I could not associate with sinners.  I grew up extremely lonely and with the inability of forming solid relationships because no one was ever considered an “ideal” friend and my siblings were bad influences.  My desire for a connection was disintegrated which unbeknownst to me -would then cause a handful of emotional damage later on in life.

The fear of God! My mother would tell me stories of the rapture, the coming of Jesus.  The battle of Good vs Evil and how God would prevail to bring his people to His kingdom had me scared to death!! My mother would tell me that Jesus would leave me behind if I did not abide the Bible and I needed to repent every day for my sins! I WAS 4 YEARS OLD! At this age all I cared about was Mc Donald’s, toys and cartoons.  I had no real control over my behavior or understanding of what all of this religious tactic meant.  What I did know is that I had fear.  I had feared to misbehave or conduct in such a manner that was displeasing to my mother.  I feared the lesson that had to be taught to me when I misbehaved because according to my mother, God gave her the authority to do so and do as she saw fit.

My first encounter with fear was when my mother beat me, tied me up with a neck-tie and gagged my mouth with paper to stop me from screaming because I did not sit still during service.  She locked me in a closet of an empty office in church.  I was left there, in the dark, screaming and crying uncontrollably.  It was common practice for Jehovah’s Witnesses to rule with an iron hand so that the children would obey the Word of God.  At least this is how they interpreted the “Word of God”.  A church member heard me and was mortified to see me there in the closet crying hysterically.  He untied me quickly and calmed me down and gave me a drink of water.  I remember sitting down and this man telling my mother that this is no way to treat a child even though this is what they preached to the congregation.  I believe whole-heartedly this man saw first hand the power of words and how they can be misinterpreted.  I can tell in his eyes that he felt both responsible and disgusted at the same time.  At that young age I knew that this is not what God intended and if he existed, why was this happening to me?

I was often bullied at school and allowed my so-called friends to manipulate me just so that I can be accepted.  Fear damaged me from a perspective that would make me feel defenseless when my back was to the wall.  I had no voice because I was trained to fear.  I allowed myself to be bullied into silence and my hunger for acceptance made me lose sight of my own identity.  Religion made me a crutch to fear until I became Reborn Again Christian at age 15.  A weight was finally lifted from me because I felt like I belonged.  I was involved in many ministry activities and I enjoyed being part of a group that accepted me.   I was inspired by our leaders and felt love that was unconditional. When I turned 17, I graduated from High School and had to make educational decisions for my future.  Once again,  I was manipulated to believe that the world was not for me.  I was restricted from participating in activities because I had to make a decision between a life with God or with the world.  Nevertheless, I chose the world.  I was rejected by my Christian family and basically out casted because I wanted to experience life as God intended.  To expand and meet different cultures, beliefs and people that would impact my life tremendously.  I wanted to learn, fail, achieve and become part of something much bigger than I could ever imagine.  I had faith, but apparently they had no faith in me.  At the most critical stage in my life, I was abandoned by the very faith where I felt secure.  I learned that even those who follow the Christian faith and claim to walk as Jesus did can turn their backs on you and fall short of empathy and understanding.  Although Jesus embraced the sinner, my so-called friends of faith rejected me.  The path they pre-decided for me limited me within the church walls.  Something inside of me that was much bigger than those church walls was calling me and for once I took a stand against fear and listened to my heart.

I guess what I am trying to say is this; what I learned in life is to stay true to yourself even when the odds are against you.  Life has many twists and turns that unexpectedly take you through a roller coaster of inevitable emotion.  Let go and do not hold onto oppressors who hold you down because there will come a point in time where you will have to choose between staying down or rising to the occasion – Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – in this life has their moment of reconciliation and whether or not they choose to make things right, there is a higher power that justifies it all.  You are not responsible for actions beyond your control.  Trust me when I say that life always has a way of divine intervention that gives us the lesson that has to be learned and always settles the score.  What you are taught, your heart may not always follow and that is definitely okay.  Failing is a part of living! It also brings you closer to success and triumph and the only way to know for sure is when you follow your calling! Religion did not “save” me – but because I had faith it allowed me the freedom to move forward and break free from fear.  Living in fear bullies you into silence and it is incomprehensible to me how we can be judged or dictated by imperfect people.  Staying true to yourself is by far the biggest battle you will ever have to fight but is the epitome of all that matters.

 

 

 

 

 

“Only A Fool Won’t Rush In”

 

I have had to learn the hard way that sometimes desiring something may not always be what’s best for you.  My heart has always been bigger than what I could manage and because of it I have undoubtedly sacrificed for the greater good of love for all the wrong reasons. For a very long time I desensitized myself from happiness for the sake of a relationship and as a result I had fallen short of what I deserved.

So I fell in love with the wrong guy. My emotional signature is that I tend to love very hard.  I suppose it happens to the best of us. That doesn’t make me a fool; it makes me a person.  I was young and fell in love way too fast.  Before I knew it, I was trapped in a twenty-year relationship for the sake of partnership. He broke my heart more times than I can remember.  I cannot fathom the amount of days I loathed in self-pity because I could not make him love me the way I should be loved.  I couldn’t even love myself. I caved into my thoughts and figured I can learn to live like this, hoping someday he would change.  Change NEVER came!  The signs were always there that this relationship did not compliment me, however my desire for companionship far outweighed the reality that he was not “The One”.

I was the financial stability for my family and I sacrificed my happiness to force true love.  I have made plenty of mistakes along the way – many I am not proud of – but I embrace it because it paved a way for choice.  Over the 20 year course of our relationship, he had over 20 mistresses (thanks to social media). I struggled with insecurity and the burden of holding my family life together.  Somewhere in between I lost myself.  It was exhausting and I was definitely on the verge of becoming a broken woman.  I began questioning myself, “Why stay? Why am I here?” At that moment, life stopped and my opportunity came for life-changing choices.

The amazing thing about life is that it lures you into a roller coaster of emotions, opportunity and situations.  What people failed to understand – as they passed their judgement and looked down on me for staying so long – is that all of this was a necessary experience in order for me to move in the direction I needed to go.  My journey could not be decided  by what people expected me to do.  I had to allow life to take its course.  Life still had other plans for me and I had to be patient for my time to come.

I was called a fool for rushing in, but in my opinion the real fool is the one that won’t take chances and experience life without being afraid of disappointment, even if it meant sacrificing your heart.  I never regretted loving him despite the fact that he treated me like a doormat.  To be with someone for twenty years who won’t even hold your hand through the journey is far too long.

Throughout the journey, I’ve surrounded myself with everything that matters to me. I was blessed with another chance to give life and watch my daughter enter into every milestone without distraction.  Life gave me the opportunity to grow and mentally mature so that I may give myself value and pay attention to the lesson.  I took time to observe what makes my heart happy and mind clear.  It was then that I realized he can no longer fit in my life, but at the same time realized he was necessary in order for me to move on.  I was privileged with the vision to see that this was my time.  I was able to slow life down enough to finally accept that he was not “The One”.  I was able to remove him from my life because it was what I decided and not what was expected. I allowed plenty of heartache – maybe even unnecessarily – but this was my life to live and no one had the right to take that away from me.   I am grateful for my experience because I now finally understand the difference between what is right for me from what others want for me.  I have even been persuaded to feel what love and true companionship truly is and it is such an amazing gift that I could never imagine compromising it ever again.  Patience granted me maturity, maturity granted me happiness and happiness granted me freedom.

With life and love you take chances. Love should never be complicated when it is the simplest form of affection and do not hesitate to embrace it.  It’s okay if you fall or fail as long as you know there’s more to life than that moment.  No matter how long your journey is, opportunities will arise and only you will know in your heart when it is your time, and when you do, grab it with both hands.  Never allow yourself to be influenced by fear of judgement.  Life has bigger plans; don’t be afraid to jump! The real courage is to follow your heart and always do what feels right for you on your journey, because only a fool won’t rush in.