If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to hold tight to the female friendships I have cultivated. Let’s face it, when you head for your forties-well, you start to realize what is important in life and what is detrimental. You begin to stand up for yourself, and by the time you reach menopause? You’re a whirling dervish of angst on the road to having no female friendships because you have told off just about every friend you have, for one reason or another.
But what about the girls who don’t make the cut? Who, as it turns out, are toxic as 5G on hormones? The nervous breakdown you had last week? You thought it was your dark mental health history, turns out it was your dark Jezebel worming her way into your psyche. Is it really as simple as just walking away? What if NO CONTACT isn’t an option, say because you go to the same gym. Class. Mother of God.
I knew I had to go, I had no choice. I wasn’t sure I would go, but that strength I prayed to Jesus for? It came the next morning-in buckets. As I finished my makeup, I consoled myself with this thought: Maybe she won’t be there.
But that was the point of going to class: as a sufferer of PTSD, and while in the midst of a horrible episode due to this particular “friend.” I had blocked her on all of my social media, but was still reeling from what had occurred before I ran away, like OJ on crack.
“She’s here,” my friend Sasha stated, as if she were announcing the bride of Satan.
I admit it, I panicked.
Haul ass, I’m not standing next to her, I blurted.
She walked in on three women who appeared to be doing some odd rendition of a Shakespearean tragedy-we tripped over one another as we hustled to find new spots on the floor.
Nothing to see here, folks.
After the class, as I was talking to Sasha, the Jezebel interrupted me.
“Can we talk for a moment?,” we had already exchanged pleasantries, even after I had threatened to call the state police if she didn’t cease and desist. She made the Rocky Horror Picture Show look like Bambi Has a Family. I was delirious.
I stood up to her, spoke my peace, but not without multiple interruptions. I told her she had ridiculed, stalked and threatened me enough. I told her I had been self harming, as a result of our last exchange. I explained PTSD and what it does to a person. She, of course, already knew this, as we have been acquainted many years. All throughout my speech, she interjected this sentence:
“But Michele, I’M DEPRESSED.”
I drove away praising Jesus, for answered prayers and for taking the scales off of my eyes, as it were. Gawd. Good riddance.
I have lost sisters near and dear to my heart (and a few quite recently)-but the loss was temporary, as those were the women who treated me with disrespect, dishonesty or the worst sin in my book- condescension-they were not the friends I thought they were,but it didn’t make it any easier to end the relationship. My best friend in sixth grade (let’s just call her Shitstorm) threw a bowling ball at me because I had the highest average in the league. Straight out, in front of our teammates. She was also responsible for bringing a picture of me (in the seventh grade) into school in my senior year; one in which I had cut my own bangs, and let’s just say she passed it on to my high school crush. Mortifying. I was friends with her for 30 more years, until she did the unthinkable…..that’s right, she was another narcissist, and crossing her was akin to playing hopscotch with Satan. After one too many brushes with death? I let her go, stopped all contact-to this day I have nightmares. To. This. Day.
But when you hit your fifties? Why, you hold on to your female friends like grim death-the ones who love you no matter what state you’re in, root for you when you are up against it, speak to your husband when you’ve relapsed. Why, they are your true blue tribe, and you have earned each other’s trust. I am not saying there won’t be disagreements (holy crap on a cracker, that’s part of the equation ladies) but you will learn that nothing is more important than women who get and cherish you, zits, nervous breakdowns and relapses be damned.
I have spent an entire lifetime trusting women I had no business trusting, not seeing the inevitable pain that came with illumination-it’s a process. Yet, as Abba works in my life? The new friendships are more stable, enduring and incredibly comforting. You teach people how to treat you, and the only way you gain respect is by being a bitch right back. As soon as I stand my ground, the bullies run for cover.
Today I am blessed beyond measure with an abundance of loving, nurturing and life sustaining women. I am thankful they feel safe calling me friend.