I wrote this in 2010. I’m reposting it here, today, because I think she needs reminding.
“Take a minute, girl, come sit down and tell us what’s been happenin’
In your face I can see the pain, don’t try to convince us that you’re happy, yeah
We’ve seen this all before but he’s takin’ advantage of your passion
Because we’ve come too far for you to feel alone,
You don’t let him walk over your heart
I’m telling you…”
My mom once told me that when it came to loyalty, I resembled an anchor; that when I cared, I cared with all of me. I would get frustrated running myself ragged, desperately trying to claw my beloved’s burden off his/her shoulders, only to place it heftily upon my own. This is my gift and my solemn curse. Many a time it’s been used against me, a hypothetical gun pointed at the bridge between my eyes. The fingers wound around it? My own. I shake my head at its existence but I refuse to apologize for it. Because caring that deeply is love and why would anyone feel the need to express regret over that?
Not to say that it isn’t easy. It’s excruciatingly painful to watch a loved one suffer. Truth be told, it’s easier for me to accept if I had been the one to cause the hurt because then I could work to the bone to undo it. But when it’s someone else hurling tormenting blows with all their might, all you can do is take a step back, survey the damage, and pray to God your companionship can lessen the remaining aftermath, even if only for a moment. Then you attempt to play puppet master, pull at imaginary strings to force the one at fault to make right his wrongs. But you take a second hard look and the puppet you’ve been stringing along has been a real boy (or girl) all along, with his (or her) own set of feelings and methods of coping. So you trudge back to the injured party with many distractions at hand: ice cream, movie tickets, a stiff drink, a shoulder to cry on. Anything to medicate the heartache. But what about your own?
“Girl, I can tell you been crying and you needing somebody to talk to
Girl, I can tell he’s lying and pretending that he loves you
Girl, you don’t have to be hiding, don’t you be ashamed to say he hurt you
I’m your girl, you’re my girl, we’re your girls
Don’t you know that we love you?”
I have a selected few that I have love for. We don’t talk every day and months can go by before a proper catch up. But oh, how I pray for them. Whenever I’m elated, I stop and hope they know exactly what happiness feels like at that precise moment. Whenever devastation finds me, I stop and hope that they never know this kind of pain.
I’m not in denial, I know that’s not true. We’ve all known heartbreak, we’ve all been scorned, we’ve all cried rivers and have sat in a single spot for hours, a half circle of used tissues at our feet. We’ve all crouched into a ball, trying to minimize ourselves so we can minimize the ache in the center of our chests. We’ve all cried haunting sobs ending in hyperventilation and calming ticks. We’ve all lain awake for an entire night, awaiting a phone call that never came. We’ve all soaked pillows and woken with our eyes swollen shut from dried tears and a pounding headache from lack of sleep. We’ve all typed in his half his number and stared endlessly at it before tossing the phone away. We’ve all walked away in the hopes that he’d come running after us. We’ve all tried to drink the unease away only to have it resurface in the morning, hangover in hand. We’ve all tried to go about our days as normally as we could but couldn’t escape the feel of heartbreak that stayed every second of wakefulness.
We’ve all loved. And we’ve all lost. But I’ve always had them and (I hope they know) they’ve always had me.
What a feeling it is to nurse a friend back to health and acknowledge your part in the healing. To see your friend smile and laugh and know for certain that it isn’t forced makes you want to burst into song and dance. To have your eyes light up when she mentions someone new, an opening has been made in her heart again. And then the final hallelujah when she finds a man who not only knows her worth but who won’t take it for granted. He loves her just the way she deserves to be loved and although you’ll cut off his balls and feed them to him if he ever does her wrong, you’re grateful. You’re selflessly grateful for her happiness and you rejoice in it as if it were your very own. Because …actually? – It is.
But then there are those friends who refuse to let go. They stay rooted in the pain of their own choosing and now it’s them you try to play puppeteer with. But it fails to alter their stubbornness. Each time they work up the courage to walk away from him, you whoop …until it becomes repetitive and you begin to doubt their words, no matter how convincing they think they sound. They can say it however many times they want; you know better. As was expected, the next time she calls, she gushes about how happy she is, how happy he’s making her. She tries to pull you over to their side; “See how much he’s changing?”, followed by his most recent act of kindness that must “mean something”. Dutifully, you support her. But it’s only a matter of time before he makes her cry again. You hate him for whatever he’s done but now you’re facing the fact that you also hate the way she’s handling the situation. But her vision’s blurred and she can’t seem to see straight. Seeing her in pain may be the hardest thing to see …but hearing her devote herself to him when she knows it isn’t reciprocated is the hardest thing to hear.
“See, what you don’t know about him is I can’t let him go because needs me
It ain’t really him, it’s stress from his job, and I ain’t makin’ it easy
I know you see him buggin’ on me sometimes but I know deep inside he don’t mean it
It gets hard sometimes but I need my man
I don’t think y’all understand
I’m telling you”
But really, she’s the one who doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand how gut-wrenching it is to have to watch her kill herself by the minute. She doesn’t understand that you’re furious at the fact that he should be the one sitting here consoling her and he’s elsewhere, thinking only about himself. She doesn’t understand that it tears away at your respect for him when he disappoints her over and over and over. She doesn’t understand that her pain is your pain. She doesn’t understand that all this time wasted on someone undeserving could have been spent on someone who was. She doesn’t understand that he can’t possibly care if he flounders his way around her felings. She doesn’t understand that if she’d just let herself, she could unchain the shackles and be free; free to have some colour swell back into her cheeks, a shine return to her smile, and a heart newly mended, ready to know what it’s like to truly be loved. She doesn’t understand that although he may love her, it may not be in the way he should love her …which is with every ounce of his being and every beat of his sorry heart.
“Girl, take a good look at yourself
He got you going through hell
We ain’t never seen you down like this
What you mean you don’t need us to help?
We known each other too well”
Had the roles been reversed, it’s guaranteed that you’d see the error in my man’s ways and correct me, unveil whatever mask I’ve been hiding behind, to see him for what he really is: unworthy. That’s all. Not a bad man by any means, but I deserve way better than what he’s providing. You’d tell me that as much as I love him, staying is affecting me in the worst way. This isn’t what I would want for my daughter, my mother, my girl. So why is it that because it’s you and not me that this is happening to, your views are entirely opposite to your own beliefs?
I know that once you’re in a replicated situation you may see it from a differing perspective. But you’re very well attuned to my character and how I have dealt with situations carrying as much pain as yours.
Be free. Only you can prevent a heartache from transitioning into a heartbreak. And should it come to that, only you can pull yourself out of that kind of hell and immerse yourself in waves of repair. Only you can say, “I don’t want this anymore.” I’m not telling you not to love him, of course not. But let him go so he can learn to love you in the right way. Let him grow up and know what it’s like not to have you, let him work for you, let him fight for you. Let him see that you can live without him and that if ever you decide to try again, it’s because you want him not because you need him. Give yourself a chance too. A chance to strengthen your backbone and your heart because you’ve neglected them, weakened them. Give yourself the you that existed before him and embrace her. Learn her ways and her movements and vow never to abandon her again. That was the friend that I first met and I miss her. So I know you must be missing her like crazy too. Go get her back and insert yourself into that old, familiar skin and sense of self. Just as you’re missing her, she’s missed being you.