It is a blessing and a curse. My dance teacher growing up used to say to me all the time, "You've never been through anything!" I'd feel indignant. How did she know what I had been through? How could she tell me about my own life experience?! But she was right. She could easily see I came from a solid home life and I was just as innocent, naïve and sheltered as any little black girl in Baltimore City could be. I'm blessed. I've never been through ANYTHING remotely damaging to my mind, body or spirit. I'm so thankful for that. Yet, it left me in a weird predicament after I left the safety net of home.
At 18 I moved into my college dorm room in New York City and told my daddy flat out, "I'm not ever moving back home." From then on, I was meeting new people and forming new bonds that began to fill the void of the constant physical presence of my family. Eventually, friends became family.
The first hit was my first year roommate. She didn't like me. To this day I can not tell you why (especially because she was the one with some unsavory behavior.) By the end of the school year she had moved out, but not without throwing all my ish around my side of the bedroom and stealing my plant out of spite. Lol! Seems so silly now, but then, I was in tears.
In years to follow I have loved girlfriends and a few boyfriends fiercely, only to find out the feeling either wasn't mutual or wasn't meant to last forever. I've found out that people prefer to cut you off or fall off the face of the earth instead of talking to you, confronting you in some way. (What about letter writing?) Instead of being brave enough to have an argument and disagree, people just walk away not caring enough to deal with a conflict.
I've done it once. Cut someone off without so much as a Hello or Goodbye. Not my proudest moment. That boomerang came back. HARD.
Still I can't help but wonder, did I do that because that's what I've learned to do? Because it's been done to me? Do I become more and more tainted with each new relationship gone sour? How do I continue to love and trust and support when I feel scared that this one just isn't ready? That this one is just going to abandon me too?
By no means in all this do I want to portray myself as the victim or the greatest friend ever. I'm human. I mess up too. I only want people to tell me when I'm doing too much, doing too little, doing it all right or all wrong. I appreciate constructive criticism even if the truth hurts. Critical feedback is a way we learn and become better versions of ourselves. Best Friend earned his title and has kept it for 13 years through giving me constructive criticism. He tells me the truth ALWAYS. I love him for that.
But now I'm thinking about how grateful I am for all these relationships. No matter how hard. No matter the length. Every person comes into our lives for a reason, to teach us something - even if we can not clearly see what that is. So cliche, but so true. All day I've been thinking how can I be a better friend. What can I do to show how thankful I am for these relationships? I've decided to start by saying -
I appreciate you. For being there for me in the past, present and future. You've supported me through high and low, and I don't know what I would have done without you in that moment, in this moment, in moments to come. Moreover, thank you for putting me through something - for thickening my skin and making me see how much I want to continue to receive new relationships with an open heart.
I really, really do.