How Losing A Friendship Impacted My Kids

I really love talking about emotions. Mine. Yours. In general. It comes naturally to me to discuss my difficult feelings. I love a deep conversation more than almost anything else. Joy, fear, trauma, hopes, dreams, pain…I’m in for all of it.

As a general rule, I don’t really separate most feelings into categories like good and bad. To me, feelings are either easy or hard. I think even the hardest feelings can be useful (and therefore “good”) if working through them helps me get to a better place.

I don’t always feel strong enough to face down the tough stuff though. I’ve intentionally avoided talking about plenty of things until I felt enough time had passed that I could do it with some level of strength. When I’m healthy and balanced (which for me means not struggling hard with anxiety), I always find that discussing the hard things with someone I trust leads me to the most growth.

A professional counselor is a great choice for that kind of discussion. Sometimes big feelings are more than just feelings. If you are struggling hard, you could be experiencing depression or anxiety. If that’s the case, please, please reach out to someone who can help get your brain chemistry balanced. You’re worth it, and you don’t deserve to suffer. We need you here.

Teaching my children to recognize, explain, and work with (instead of against) their emotions is really important to me.

A few months ago, I had the chance to have a great conversation with my son after he lied to me. He is usually such an honest person, and I couldn’t believe my ears when he confidently spouted a blatant untruth right to my face.

The lie was small, but that wasn’t the point. My son needs to learn the importance of telling the truth because decent humans should know that.

When he lied to me, I didn’t play any games trying to get him to confess. I told him right away that I knew he wasn’t telling the truth. I let him know that I wasn’t mad at him, but I was disappointed that he would choose to lie. Part of the reason we have a household rule against lying is to keep him safe. We talk a lot about secrets versus surprises, and tricky people. I reiterated there is nothing he can’t tell me the truth about.

He started to cry. My heart broke.

The biggest part of me wanted to just tell him it was okay, forget that I mentioned it, dry his tears, and send him off to play. But I couldn’t. Being dishonest isn’t going to serve him well throughout his life, so I had to let him feel the pain of making the disappointing choice.

In our house, we don’t use isolation as punishment, and nobody cries alone unless they ask for the space. Even though this was a teaching moment, I held him until he was done crying. He told me he felt “bad, sad, and sorry.”

I told him I was happy to hear that because when you do something you aren’t supposed to do, and you feel bad and sad about it, that’s remorse. Remorse feels bad, but it’s actually good because it means you have a good heart.

I explained that the sorry feeling is called regret. Regret means now that you see the outcome of your decision, you wish you had made a different choice. It feels bad to regret, but it helps us remember not to make the same mistake twice.

That night, my son learned a really important truth: Bad feelings are good teachers.

The lesson I started to teach him that night is one I work hard to put into practice in my own life. I do my best to confront my own sadness, pain, and disappointment so it won’t fester and eat me up.

A couple months ago, I lost a friendship. Not just any friendship — my very best friendship.

It’s hard to mourn someone who isn’t gone but is gone from you. I tried to reserve my emotion for my own quiet moments, but I’m with my kids 24/7, and they don’t always respect closed doors. At least once, each of my kids saw me cry.

I try to be honest with them, so I told them that I was sad because I missed my friend. I explained that grownups cry when we feel sad and overwhelmed, just like kids. To reassure them, I let them know that I wouldn’t be sad forever, and it was just a moment that would pass.

My six-year-old was unfazed. He totally gets it. Feelings don’t freak him out at all.

Even my 3-year-old even understood. When he walked in on me during a sad moment, he patted my back, handed me my cell phone and said, “Let’s call Daddy.” My boy knows just what I need already. He’s got this.

It’s been a couple months, and I am at peace again. Losing that friendship was SO DAMN HARD, but it gave me a chance talk to my kids about sadness and loss. My hard feelings taught me, and they allowed me to teach my kids. In the end, I’ve found a way to be thankful for the whole mess.

Just this week, someone I love received an overwhelming diagnosis. As he was trying to tell me how it made him feel, he just lost his words. There was no phrase or sentence in the English language adequate to express the way fear and pain were living simultaneously in his heart with resolve and hope. He sighed and laid his head back. All I said was, “I know. I understand.”

There was nothing else I could say. Minimizing his experience would be useless. He has to feel his way through. There’s no way to speed this emotional process up. Pretending it’s not happening won’t make it any easier. He just has to let the hard feelings roll in like a wave, crest, and eventually break and wash away. His hard feelings will motivate him to make the healthy choices that will save his life.

I want my kids to grow up to be smart and kind and brave — and able to do the difficult emotional work of adulthood with some level of grace.

Part of that is allowing them to feel the weight of poor decisions. If they break a rule, they have to live with it. I try not to save them from the natural consequences of their choices. Another part is helping them see sadness, fear, pain, loss, regret, and uncertainty as inevitable.

Of course, we don’t have to embrace the pain and live there, wallowing in our misery, using it as an excuse to hurt people. I firmly believe that controlling our actions while we work through our emotions is absolutely necessary. Like I tell my children, “It’s okay to feel mad at your family. It’s not okay to scream, hit or disrespect your family in your anger.” If you use your feelings to make excuses for your bad behavior, you aren’t growing. You’re just pitching a fit.

We just need to be prepared for the idea that hard things are going to come our way, and then be ready to breathe through them with the reassurance that better days are coming next.

I want my kids to be good people more than I want to save them from every hard thing. I believe that some of their best lessons will come as a result of their poor choices, and some of the others will come from painful experiences.

As much as it hurts, I think we need to resist the urge to rescue our kids and loved ones from the tough stuff.

We just need to work on making peace with the inevitability of difficult emotions, then hopefully, we will be able learn the lessons they’re trying to teach.

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Why I Decided To Cut Ties With Certain Friends

The race conversations with my friends began genuinely.

“I totally get it,” my friend commented on my social media post where I shared my article about a white stranger touching my black daughter’s hair….again. “Strangers always touch my boys’ hair. People are fascinated with curls.”

I knew better than to engage, but I did anyway. Her “we’re all the same” and “I feel you, girl” commentary irked me. I replied that a white person touching a white child’s curly hair, as in her child’s case, wasn’t the same as a white person touching a black child’s hair. Yes, both were annoying, but that was the only similarity. Because when the hands are white and the child is black, the touch is a racial microaggression.

That led to predictable follow-up commentary via a DM, the same-old nonsense I’ve heard for years. We all bleed red. We’re all the same race, the human race. Stop playing the race card. I have a black friend, so I understand racism. I don’t see color. Why is there a black history month but not a white history month? All lives matter. I’m over political correctness. Everyone is so damn sensitive these days.

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The same well-meaning but racially-ignorant friends would post a peace-and-love Dr. King quote in January, but then would leave a comment about “those people” and “black on black crime” on an article discussing yet another case of police brutality.

I’m all for race discussions. In fact, I believe that avoiding conversations about hard topics like racism only gives power to the evil that created them. Calling out systemic racism, microaggressions, and stereotypes, and then confronting them head-on, is a move in the right direction.

Because of my beliefs that we all should stay in conversations that make us uncomfortable, I would engage, time and time again. Plus, I know that if white parents get educated, they will be motivated to educate their children as well. I was changing the world and making it better, one encounter at a time.

But I was running low on patience and energy. My friend’s intentional unwillingness to change and complete lack of empathy was personal to me and my family. My mama bear mode kicked in.

One friend asked me to explain to her how her white daughter wearing cornrows was an issue. I spent a good 20 minutes typing up an explanation of cultural appropriation and why it is problematic. Within seconds of hitting send, the three hopping dots appeared, showing me she was typing a response.

“I don’t get it,” she replied. “They’re just braids. They’re cute. Why does it matter?”

Clearly, my friend wasn’t looking to consider another point of view and change her stance. She was looking to argue and defend her white privilege.

I followed up with links to a handful of articles by black women about the history and importance of black hair culture. I’m positive my friend didn’t read them, because she came back with the same questions of why-not-my-kid. Then she added that if her white daughter was called out for wearing cornrows, that was reverse racism.

I sighed. I had about a million other things on my growing to-do list. Should I bother explaining to her that reverse racism isn’t real?

And yes, I am well aware that if I’m fatigued from explaining racism to fellow white folks, people of color must be bone-tired.

I decided not to reply and instead use my time to make my kids dinner. Though the bothersome conversation lingered in my mind for days. My friend was convinced that her daughter was entitled to wear cornrows, vehemently denying she could possibly be in-the-wrong. And when I patiently replied, answering her next question, her white fragility kicked into overdrive.

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At the end of the day, I don’t really care what hairstyle her kid wears. It doesn’t impact me, my life, or my kids. But, if friends are going to take the time to ask me a race question, and I take the time to answer, I expect them to at least take a minute to consider.

White people, myself included, are used to being top dog in almost every situation. It takes a lot of humility and consideration to listen to someone else’s experience and take it to heart. Listening also takes courage. Courage to look white supremacy, our nation’s racial history, and today’s racism in the face.

Inevitably, white guilt ensues, because it was white people who stole land from the Native Americans, created the Middle Passage and slavery, wrote Jim Crow laws, and are supporting Trump in building a wall and separating families at the border.

White people, collectively, have a lot to feel bad about. But at least some people are choosing to feel it and do something about it, with their social media posts, with their votes, and with whom they befriend.

And in my case, who I defriend.

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I can no longer deal with those who act like toddlers. You know, when your kid has had enough of your parenting, covers their ears, and proceeds to yell, “I can’t hear you!” They aren’t my friends. They’ve shown their true colors, and they aren’t for my multiracial family.

After two friends in particular just couldn’t let the race conversations go, attempting to bait me off and on for months, I broke up with them. I didn’t make a dramatic exit from the friendship. In fact, I took the wimpy way out. I ghosted them.

I’m mothering four black kids, and I have made the decision that I no longer have the time or energy to help white friends understand why we, for example, have chosen to depict Santa as black. Why we proudly wear Black Lives Matter tees. Why we acknowledge Juneteenth and shun Columbus Day.

I acknowledge that breaking up with these friends is ironically an act of white privilege. After all, people of color can’t leave racism. They live it every day. However, I’m not abandoning racism. I still call it out when it happens, and I welcome conversations about race.

Simply put, I’ve learned an important lesson. I can’t change everyone, nor should I bother trying. And I’m not ashamed that I bailed. I am no longer interested in wasting minutes on the mom friend who wanted to schedule a play date one day and then the next day, defend her whiteness — especially when it comes at the expense of my black children.

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The Best Friends Are The Ones You Had When You Were 12

Twelve was a strange age. Full of insecurity, puberty, self-doubt, and trying to fit in. But you know what made those pre-teen years a fond memory to look back on, and also, kind of great too? The friends I made and still have today.

For those with friends who met in an age group similar to mine, newsflash, you met when the rest of the world considered you “quirky.” Therefore, there’s no obligation to try and pretend any of you are even remotely “normal-ish” if you’re still friends with them today… after all, they know better. 

They were and are the ones who take you as you are, and that’s what makes them so irreplaceable. You found each other in the middle of trying to find yourself. In a time when you didn’t feel like a kid anymore, but you also didn’t feel even remotely grown either. Because of that, you get each other on a level most others don’t. Your relationship is intimate, and the roots run deep.

When you were 12, you were watching horror films in the basement with each other, and then lulling yourself to sleep with some kind of Disney film to undo the harm you’d caused your mental state by watching “The Ring” even after your parents had forbidden it. These were the days when T-Ping was fair game on the weekends, and more Fridays than not were spent begging the parents who hosted the sleepover to pretty please take the lot of you from point A to point B.

Courtesy of Caila Smith

Together, you learned that using bright blue eyeshadow alone is never okay. Also, you were dumbfounded to find out that you are, indeed, supposed to apply mascara to your bottom lashes. Also, those cork-wedged shoes… those are just not cute.

Now, life is different. You have evolved individually. Each creating new lives which do not resemble the ones you first found each other in and all of you living out your purpose so uniquely… and every bit of it is so beautiful.

Through every fad, stage, heartache, loss and victory, these friends remain true. They are cherished on a personal level, because they’ve stood the test of time.

Courtesy of Caila Smith

Surely there were and will continue to be moments of frustration between you. (Does anyone remember those dreaded, gossip-filled and unknown three-way calls from way back when? UGH.) But you outgrew the pettiness stage of your lives together. Now, as adults, you’re able to actually listen for the sake of listening, not just listen for the sake of responding. You’ve been friends for so long that you’d hate to doom it by sweating the small stuff, so you admit your wrongs and right them when needed, as do they — and it’s what keeps the many-years-long friendship still burning.

You’ve started families of your own, lives of your own, and it’s nothing short of astounding to see your childhood friends grow into the parents they always wanted to be (or for some, the ones they swore to God that they would never be — ha!).  And although life stands in the way of seeing one another’s kids as often as you’d always intended, you love them as intensely as you love your own.

Because of them, your kids have playdates (although rare sometimes) that are comfortable for you and your friends. There’s no trying to be somebody you’re not. Messy buns, elastic pants and no makeup is preferred, actually. Without these people, who could you run to while venting, “My kid is being an asshole,” because you know their child is being an asshole too, and they are just going to be thrilled you were the first to admit to it out loud?

In the worst moments, they are right beside you without hesitation. And in your mountaintop victories, they are the ones cheering you on while saying, “I always knew you could do it.”

Friends like these are a platonic love like nothing else. Whereas you’ve grown used to questioning friendships, relationships, and other aspects of your life for years in the past, there’s no need to do that with them, because they’ve proven themselves to be the real deal time after time again. They are the ones who have stayed while the rest have come and gone. With them, are so many sacred and wholesome memories. And even though life is not now what it once was, the friendship remains firm.

Now, these friends and myself are grown. But beneath all of this adult exterior, there’s still a group of 12-year-olds swimming (not “laying out”) in the backyard pond while my friend’s mom makes us fruit smoothies and/or chocolate milkshakes. The nostalgia of rainy days spent making a “Sims” family while eating ramen noodles is frozen in time and near and dear to my heart. I miss those days. But the best part about them? We made lasting memories without even knowing it or planning it; we were just living our best life and doing it super carefree-like.

We are all moms after these many years. And now, we potentially get to see the other side of this kindred friendship in our own children. We might forget to stock the pantry for weekend sleepovers, drive around relentlessly from activity to activity, and build campfires in the pit.

I, for one, really do hope so.

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My Best Friend Betrayed Me, And I Regret How I Handled It

Sometimes we don’t handle things the way we should. Sometimes the hurt’s so bad, the betrayal so awful, we slide back into old habits. And by “old habits,” I mean “acting like a goddamn teenager.” Because betrayal hurts like nothing else, especially when it comes from someone important in your life, someone you depended on for emotional support. A spouse, maybe. A parent. A best friend.

I lost my best friend.

Our oldest sons were born within four months of each other. I nursed her son; she nursed mine. I stood as godmother to her oldest; she stood as godmother to my middle child. When my oldest son had an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting, she drove her newborn to the hospital to retrieve our other kid and watching him. When she became deathly ill with both severe hyperemesis (uncontrollable vomiting) and diabetes during her second pregnancy, and her husband left town, I drove to her house to inject her with the shots she needed. I cleaned her bathroom on multiple occasions. She took my children when I had a mental breakdown. When she and her husband moved to another state, I was devastated.

Then she betrayed me.

I had no idea it was coming. None.

I opened Facebook one day to see a post about her making it through her first trimester. About how her hypermesis was progressing this time around. About how excited they were to have a third baby. I felt completely, totally, and utterly betrayed. I found out about my supposed best friend’s pregnancy from FacebookThe worst part: she had clearly told mutual friends, who must have been instructed not to tell my husband and me. We had seen them recently and they hadn’t discussed the topic with us.

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Post after post came from friends — friends I thought were less close than we were. Friends who had clearly known. Friends who lived in my town. Talk about feeling betrayed. I didn’t know what to do. She had always said she couldn’t, wouldn’t have more children because of how sick she got, and that shared inability to expand our families had always bonded us (not to mention that I also suffer from hyperemesis and diabetes while pregnant, though not as severely as she does, and that plays no small role in our inability to have more kids).

Double gut punch.

My best friend had chosen not to share one of the biggest events in her life with me. I felt enraged. I felt disappointed. I felt sad and hurt and lonely and a whole bundle of emotions all at once. But mostly, I felt betrayed.

And she was active on Facebook.

I did the not-smart thing. The immature thing.

Instead of walking away from the computer, instead of having a cup of tea, or calling my husband, or taking deep breaths, I made the super-mature decision to tell her how betrayed I felt. And rather than ask her why she hadn’t told me, why she’d cut me out of the loop, or what had happened, I took the middle school route and typed, “I’m only going to say it once and I prefer not to discuss it at all. I am deeply hurt I found out about your pregnancy on Facebook … And like I said, I don’t really want to talk about it.”

She replied that she didn’t think I wanted to talk to her “after August.” Then refused to explain what happened “in August.” I’d seen her since August. She had come up to town to visit, kids and foster kids in tow. I felt even more betrayed. She didn’t think our relationship was worth addressing important concerns. How do you answer something like that

Even more hurt, even more angry, and feeling even more betrayed — our friendship didn’t matter enough to discuss basic disagreements — I dove deeper into my sixth grade self. “I don’t know what gave you that impression,” I typed. “But I am incredibly stunned and deeply hurt and NOW I don’t really want to talk to you anymore.”

She didn’t answer, neither did I, and I snoozed her ass on social media. I’ve been snoozing her every thirty days since. This happened three and a half months ago.

Every thirty days, she pops up on my feed talking about her pregnancy. I’m angry: why did she ditch me? Distance? Because I suck at sending cards? Because we couldn’t make it to our godson’s First Communion? Then I remember she’s pregnant, who used to be my buddy in “we can’t have any more babies,” and I feel even more betrayed. I’m happy they can expand their family. But finding out about her pregnancy over Facebook, when we spent so many hours lamenting that we wanted more children, just seemed cruel.

To her credit, she tried recently. She sent me videos via Facebook for Mother’s Day, of both her daughter and son —I am her son’s godmother, after all, and I love him dearly. He was my son’s best friend.

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I should have watched them. I should have sent a nice message back. I should have been the bigger person.

I was still too angry. I was still too hurt, too betrayed, too sad and too mad. I haven’t looked at them. When I opened Messenger to make sure I got the wording right for this essay, I briefly saw her daughter, whom I love so much, dancing on video. I nearly cried. I’m nearly crying now.

I don’t have a best friend anymore. The girl who I’d probably name as my best girlfriend lives 600 miles away. It hurts. It’s lonely. I’m lonely. No one to go to for a walk with on those days you want to get out of the house. No one take a trip to the mall. No one to give you a hug, or help clean your house when your mom’s coming over.

I wish I could say what I wanted out of this relationship, in the end. I wish I could offer a tidy resolution: I want to be friends again, to go back to before. Part of me, of course, longs for it. Another part of me says, fuck it, if she’s shown she’s capable of something this big, she could do something just like it two, three years from now. I may set myself up for heartbreak.

I know this: I miss our long, lazy afternoons scarfing Jamaican food at her dining room table while the kids ran wild. I miss knowing I could pick up the phone and know she’d be there for me. I miss the easy days, the way she hated the microwave, her aversion to mess and the days she forced me to get out of bed when no one else could. I miss calling to ask if she wanted Starbucks on the way over to her house. It hurts, this missing. It hollows me out.

I want it back.

But I don’t know if I can risk the price.

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Why It’s Important For Me To Be Friends With My Ex

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, relationships just don’t work out and the end of a relationship is always a challenge. But when you have children together, things are infinitely more complicated. It can be hard to have a positive relationship, much less a friendship, but sometimes it can be possible.

Being friends with my ex was always a priority to me; I knew that it was going to be the best way for us to successfully co-parent our child.

Our split was a long-time in the making. We’d been together for about six and a half years, the last two of which were long distance. I knew I was unhappy, and he was emotionally checked out, so we both knew it was coming and necessary. There wasn’t an explosive incident; we simply grew apart.

Our break-up was amicable, which makes friendship a whole lot easier.

Our son is still young so being friendly with my ex is important to me. We still have a lot of life left to live, and I always want him to be there for our son. So if I want him to be involved, we have to make the effort.

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There are parts of our son’s life we will have to do together. First days of school. Christmases. Birthdays. High school graduation. Taking him to college if he chooses to go. Maybe one day he gets married. Or what about if/when he has kids? I couldn’t force my son to divide his life because his dad and I can’t be in the same room.

Being friendly with my ex isn’t always easy though. Most of the time, it’s really fucking hard. There are a many things I do to keep the peace between us because I don’t want my son to suffer. At the end of the day, everything I do is for my son. I know he loves his dad, and I would never want my feelings to stand in the way of their relationship. So I bite my tongue a lot. And I remind myself that he’s a decent guy and a pretty good dad, so I have no reason to not be friends with him. Sure, he drives me bonkers sometimes, but that isn’t unique to him — any friend can get on your nerves from time to time.

Because I want to have a positive relationship with my ex, I’m upfront and honest. I call him on his bullshit. When he could do better, I say so. We can be friends, but at the end of the day, his first priority is being a good dad.

But I also have to pick my battles. When he’s not pulling his weight, I feel like I’m the one making all the effort. I don’t like fighting, but just like with any other friendship, sometimes you have to let them know when they’re not being a good friend. It’s just in this case, he’s usually being a bad friend and a shitty dad. I can handle him treating me poorly, it’s when his behavior affects our son that I have a problem.

I’m discovering that being friendly with my ex is a learning curve. There is no handbook on how to get along. Some days we can joke around like pals, and I remember that he’s a good guy. We try and look out for each other when we can. He’ll come over and help me put together furniture. Or I’ll let him have an important package sent to my house when he’s working long hours. Last Christmas he got me a nice gift. He didn’t have to, but I really appreciated the gesture.

Of course, we want each other to be happy and successful in life. For us, our careers are a huge part of our lives. We’re both in creative fields, so we understand each other’s struggles. Sharing career wins is an important way for us to show we care. When he books an acting gig, I make sure to congratulate him. And he will tell me he’s proud of me if I get a huge byline. Because our successes don’t just affect us; they affect our son too.

It takes a while, but eventually you do can get to the point of being cool with each other. You have to work at it though; it doesn’t just happen. Some days I have to remind myself to be nice. To treat him with respect on those days when I think he’s an idiot. Making sure that if we’re annoyed with each other, our son doesn’t have to see it. For the most part, we just take it one day at a time.

Even though our relationship didn’t work out, I know he’s not a bad person. The love we had for each other has evolved into something new now. Being friends makes raising our son so much easier. It allows us to hang out with him together. We can sit across from each other at dinner and it doesn’t (always) feel awkward. If the three of us go out together, it doesn’t feel weird. In those moments, I am reminded that he’s just doing the best he can too.

Being able to successfully co-parent hinges on being friendly with my ex. I realize that I’m super lucky in how everything ended. Not everyone gets the luxury of staying friends with their ex, which is why it’s so important to me. Putting in the effort makes a world of difference for us and for our son. When our children can see two people who can get along, they feel more secure. And at the end of the day, isn’t that all we want for our kids?

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To The Friends Who Stick Around When Anxiety Messes With My Mind

Anxiety has a way of ruining good things that happen to me. Even when I’m happy, it comes creeping on me like dark clouds over my sunny day. I convince myself that too much happiness is suspicious, and if I’m happy right now, it’s because something terrible is soon to happen.

Anxiety is not rational. Anxiety is knowing all about the logic of the impossibility of something happening and still convincing yourself that there is a crack somewhere in that logic and that the 1-in-a-million chance of something bad happening will definitely happen to you.

Anxiety also comes with an overthinking mind. It’s an intense mind that never stops thinking, so much it becomes a form of torture. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night sweating, thinking of the things I could have done better, like that one text a few months ago that maybe I should have worded slightly differently.

My anxiety doesn’t only affect me, it affects the people around me too. Anxiety makes my relationships harder. I’m thankful for the friends in my life who stay. I want them to know that it means the world to me because I know I can be hard to love sometimes. I can be paranoid and too sensitive — too much, too me. If I see changes in a friend’s behavior, I come up with tons of hypothetical scenarios that would explain why they hate me right now, because if they didn’t answer my text yet, clearly they must hate me. I skip right past the logical explanation that they’re just busy or feeling down about something wholly unrelated to me.

I convince myself that they’re mad, that I screwed up, that they’ve finally had enough of my overthinking mind. I live in constant fear of losing the people I love. I care so much that just knowing that there’s a possibility that good things could end is unbearable to me.

My anxiety is trying to protect me. It’s preparing me for the worst so I have a chance to grab a parachute to soften the fall. One of my downfalls, though, is that to prevent potential heartbreak, I distance myself from the people I love. It ends up affecting the relationships, even though in reality there was nothing to protect myself against with to begin with. My anxiety and I, we’ve gone through a lot together, and sometimes it’s difficult for us to believe that people can stay even when we’re not our best self. It’s difficult for us to believe that there are people who actually stay through the storms life throws at us. It feels like utopia to believe that forever friends do exist and that they can happen to us too. But forever friends exist, and for them I am thankful.

I know my need for reassurance can come across as needy, and I feel the need to apologize for it. But I want my friends to know that this isn’t something I can control yet, and I hate this about myself too. I, better than anyone, know how incredibly annoying an overactive mind is. I live with it and, believe me, I wish I’d found the “off” button already. Above all, I want my friends to know that having them by my side is the most beautiful gift a girl like me, a girl with anxiety, could ask for. To the friends who stay when I don’t even love myself, thank you.

 

We are Scary Mommies, millions of unique women, united by motherhood. We are scary, and we are proud. But Scary Mommies are more than “just” mothers; we are partners (and ex-partners,) daughters, sisters, friends… and we need a space to talk about things other than the kids. So check out our Scary Mommy It’s Personal Facebook page. And if your kids are out of diapers and daycare, our Scary Mommy Tweens & Teens Facebook pageis here to help parents survive the tween and teen years (aka, the scariest of them all.)

The post To The Friends Who Stick Around When Anxiety Messes With My Mind appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Why I’m So Grateful For A 2-Minute Conversation In The Department Store

I saw an fellow mom the other day while browsing my favorite store. We aren’t super close, but we both know the enough about each other through social media and the occasional meet up to talk over coffee.

She knows I’m a divorced, working mom and she’s in the same boat. Because of that, when we see each other there’s a level of comfort that allows us to let it all hang out like an unbuttoned pair of Levi’s after Thanksgiving dinner.

I asked her how she was and she replied with the standard, “Good.”

Then she returned the question, and I said I was great. Which was a total lie.

She stopped, her eyes dropped to the floor, and she laughed. Then she looked up at me and said,”Actually, I’m really shitty.”

And oh my fucking God, the relief I felt pouring out of me because we could actually have a real, raw conversation made me realize when I lied between my clenched jaw about how fucking fabulous I was, my shoulders were tense and I probably wasn’t breathing properly.

“ME. TOO.”

JGI/Tom Grill/Getty

I didn’t know how badly I needed to tell someone that I was hanging on by a thread that week. How badly I needed to really be seen. How badly I needed to just be real.

We’ve become so used to rushing through our days, white-knuckling it through life to make it to the next thing, we have become immune to taking a second to be truthful about how we feel.

The other mom and I only talked for a few minutes — she was late for something and my daughter was in the dressing room trying on her 45th dress for an upcoming dance — but in those five minutes, my day changed dramatically. I’m hoping her day did too. After all, she must have needed to talk about it or she wouldn’t have let me into her world, and I feel lucky I was there to help her.

I certainly wasn’t happy she was struggling and having a hard time wading through this life of hers by any means. But I noticed right away how my pulse slowed down immediately after joining her in the “let’s get real about how we are really doing” club.

I felt cleansed because I knew I wasn’t alone. It felt amazing to tell the truth and not walk through the store saying I was fine, feeling like a frozen version of myself, before trying on some heels and leaving feeling like a shriveled up skin pod. But that is exactly what would have happened had she not peeled off her mask and admitted she, in fact, was not “fine” and no, life wasn’t great at all.

We are not robots. We don’t need to put a positive spin on everything despite all the positive, uplifting memes that are getting tossed around about choosing happiness. And for fuck’s sake, we are not always good, or great, or fine, or whatever code word we use when we are feeling like a useless bag of dicks but think we need to cover it up lest we make anyone uncomfortable or someone actually see as as a human being.

You can be grateful for all you have and still feel like life is trying to get you right in the Achilles’ heel.

I know it’s okay to not be fine, I know it. But for some reason, it’s harder to admit that to others. Which is why I’m so grateful this woman took it a step further and made me realize it’s okay to be real about it too.

Not only did I feel lighter for being my real self that day, but I also realized that real conversations, where I can actually share how I’m really feeling, are the only conversations I want to have. Shame on me for saying I was great when I felt like I’d been put through the garbage disposal that day. From now now, I’m going to tell someone if I’m having a bad day (or month) instead of painting a glossy picture all over the damn place.

Being real doesn’t mean you have to go into the grittiness and deep corners of your life, divulging every detail. It doesn’t mean you have to unload all your drama, either.

But simply letting someone into your world a little bit and not feeling like you have to conceal your way through your days — especially if you have the opportunity to talk with someone who is willing to take a few minutes out of their life to let you know they are there, they understand, and yes, life can be a shitshow for them too — wouldn’t you rather get in that lane?

It’s not easy and can make us feel vulnerable and weak, but it’s not weak at all. It’s a sign of strength to admit you are breakable — we all are.

And by admitting that you’re having a shitty day or struggling lately, you give others permission to be real too. Sometimes it’s all someone needs to get through the rest of their day.Who knows, you just might lift someone’s spirits a bit — just like that other mom did for me.

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What It Means To Be A Loyal AF Friend

Friendship when you’re an adult means something very different than it does when you’re young. There is so much more going on in our lives, and we have little time for drama, but having strong friendships is absolutely essential to our happiness. Finding a loyal friend and being able to maintain that friendship is like finding a diamond in the rough. If you’re lucky enough to find one, you don’t want to give them up. You don’t know if you’ll be able to find another.

But what makes a loyal friend?

Well, there are usually different qualities that we all look for, but there are a few things that are universal. A loyal friend is a go-to for a lot of things. Companionship, advice, love, and understanding are just a few. These are the most universal things that make a friend loyal AF.

1. When you get together, it seems like no time has passed (even when it has).

NBC

As we get older, maintaining friendships is a challenge. Not because we don’t try, but because being an adult is super inconvenient. Work demands are the first thing to start to push you apart. Then come relationships and maybe children. Once you have kids, your time is rarely your own. And if you both have kids? Well, you probably won’t see each other until your kids go to college. But a true, loyal friend will understand that as much as you want to see them, you can’t. Sometimes you will be able to get some time together. It may be far between, but a loyal friend doesn’t care. You fall into your normal routines — the conversation flows, and soon you’re laughing and joking as if no time has passed at all.

2. You spend time together doing mundane things — or nothing at all.

FOX

Friendship, especially as an adult, is always evolving. With the busyness of life, sometimes you just need to be still. A loyal friend won’t complain if you aren’t doing something exciting. Because you don’t get to spend time together as much, they’ll be happy to just hang out. You can sit at home and watch TV or talk for hours, and that’s just as satisfying as going out for a night on the town. Or, a really loyal friend will do boring shit with you, like go grocery shopping. Maybe they’ll even sit with you while you fold laundry (if you’re really lucky, they may help!). It doesn’t have to be anything for it to be something.

3. They always tell the truth. ALWAYS.

The truth can be hard to hear. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be said. A true friend will tell you the truth, even if they know it will be hard. If you love someone as much as you’re supposed to love your good friends, you can’t do anything but tell them the truth. Because you only want what’s best for them. And that’s not to say it’s going to be easy. If you fuck up and your friend can’t talk to you, then you might not be as good of friends as you thought. On the other hand, loyal friends know how to talk to you in a way that won’t sugarcoat what you’ve done wrong. They will, however, be brutally honest in a way only friends can be. If your kid is being an asshole, a loyal friend will tell you. Sure, it may hurt to hear, but your friendship won’t end over the truth.

4. They keep your secrets.

HBO

Sometimes I have things happening in my life that I need tell someone, but not everyone. Being able to confide in you is important. Secrets are the ultimate test of a loyal friend — because if you only tell them, and then word gets out, you know who told. True friends will take secrets to the grave if that’s what they have to do. Because if I can’t trust you to keep my secrets, I can’t trust you with anything really.

5. They show up.

NBC

There are so many different ways you can show up as a friend. Sometimes it literally means “show up,” being the person to call when things happen. Whether that means being an emergency contact for me or my kiddo or driving me to IKEA on a Friday afternoon. Or picking up your bestie at the hospital because no one else can.

Showing up can also look like staying up late to talk to your best friend after her date even though you have work in the morning. It doesn’t always have to be something big either — just sending a text to say “hey, I’m thinking of you.” Even just sending a meme that reminds you of them.

Comedy Central

Showing up is about presence more than anything else. Being there no matter how or why we need each other. A loyal friend will never question what they’ll get out of it either. Because they know you’ll show up for them too.

All of this is why a loyal friend isn’t easy to come by. Because they have to be a bunch of different things all rolled up into one package. And this is why, if you have a loyal friend, you never want to let them go.

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I Want More Than ‘Mom Friends’ And Group Texts When It Comes To Friendship

I watched a movie the other night, the premise of which was Friendships Matter. While the movie was unremarkable, it did make me consider the amount of time I don’t spend with my closest friends.

Recent research has found that women’s friendships are key to our mental well-being and good health, but if you’re like me, chances are your closest friends don’t live next door, or even in your city. And with all that moms have on their plates, you probably don’t have adequate time to connect regularly. I’m sure you have a text thread to keep each other looped in, but we all know that’s not enough; it’s a Band-Aid solution at best. And it’s high time we change that.

Think about it: if the world’s most successful companies mandate face-to-face meetings, then isn’t it time we mandate them in our personal lives as well?

Charis Gegelman/Unsplash

It recently occurred to me that my best friend and I have only seen each other for a couple of days in the last 3 years! In that time I have added a third child, coped with the loss of a parent, and moved to the dreaded suburbs.

In her world, she has climbed the corporate ladder, juggled two kids, and said goodbye to her beloved grandfather.

If I’m honest, I don’t know what her life has really looked like for the past few years. Her day-to-day grind, her true mental state and if she still thinks “mango” is an appropriate color for my skin tone (it’s not). What if she’s dead inside?? Who knows? I’ve been too busy googling “can children dry-drown in the shower” to even ask.

Courtesy of Tuni Chatterji

As I hurtle towards 40, I recognize that we are both “growing up,” just without each other. And that means that these fluctuating hormones, loss of identity, anxiety about raising kids, depression about our planet, family drama and so much more, are not things we are experiencing together. Most of these conversations can’t be fully handled over text or through choppy WiFi or on a quick call in between work trips.

In three years, so much has been left unsaid. A dear friend of mine recently turned 40 and told me that she woke up one day and said “where is my squad?” Between her kid’s activities, carpool arrangements, birthday parties, family trips, and drinking enough water (so much damn water), she felt disconnected from her true friends. Her friendships were surviving on autopilot. And I know she’s not alone.

Most of us moms spend so much energy navigating parenthood that we need friendships to help us raise our kids. We seek out fellow moms with kids of the exact same age, who live nearby so we have a community to vent to when our babies stay up all night or our toddlers shame us at Target. But that is only one piece of our Life puzzle. Moms are not a monolith. We each have storied lives and great friendships from before kids, all of which shaped who we are, our actual personalities. We are so much more than So-and-So’s mom.

Now that my youngest is two, I am not solely investing in “mom friends” anymore. I don’t need help with my kids, I need help with me. I am navigating so much on my own and my husband shouldn’t have to be the Gayle to my Oprah. Besides, he’s a man and we all know fathers have a very different existence than mothers! Even our mid-life crises look different.

ELEVATE/Pexel

If I look at this through a marketing perspective, we are two completely different market segments. What product has a target market of both my husband and me? Other than a fucking Peloton, there’s not much. So if we don’t even buy the same shit, why am I expecting him to understand half the stuff I bring up? The point is, he doesn’t, and he shouldn’t have to because that is my best friend’s job.

So, in an effort to save my sanity and relieve my sweet hubby from my nonsense, I am booking a flight, I am booking a hotel, and I will be going on a girls’ trip. And you should too. It’s for your health.

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I’m Going To KonMari My Friendships

If you are as fortunate as I am, you have found the invaluable friend who has stood by your side through every difficult moment. It’s her phone number on my favorites list that my finger reaches for instinctively when I need to cry and let out the buildup of pain. She consoles me and encourages me before we quickly switch to laughing together. Although we only found each other later in life, she is a soul mate, a godsend.

There is also the friend who I barely ever see yet who transports me to a time in my school days when I was young and carefree and madly in love with the boy who is now my husband. I may not see her often, but she brings the cheeky smile of youth to my face each time we stumble across one another.

Just as indispensable are my allies in life, the feminists who fight the good fight with me, boost me up, bolster me when I need it. They share the same values and support me to keep pushing for the rights I hold dear.  We send newspaper articles back and forth, discussing their meaning and relevance to our lives. There is a connection of minds. We are more than just friends, we are comrades, sharing a unique intellectual bond.

And who doesn’t enjoy the friend on the dance floor, the music buddy who is my go-to when the rhythm is my release. She gets it. It is not a deep, profound friendship, but it is cherished and enjoyed for what it is. This friend makes me feel fun and energized.

And then sometimes I notice the friendships that drag me down.

I'm Going To KonMari My Friendships

There is the friend with whom I end the phone call and immediately feel regret. Why did I listen unresponsively to the gossip I was just told? Why did I not open my mouth and tell my friend to stop speaking so freely about the intimate details of another friend’s life, details I should not be privy to and felt uncomfortable hearing. Instead of feeling positive after our conversation, I feel a sense of negativity.

You know those friends, the ones who invite you for dinner, then you invite them back, soon followed by another invitation back to their home again. The cycle goes round and round, even though neither of you can really recall why you first became friends and whether you have anything in common anymore.

Traumatically, there is also the friend who broke your naive heart when you found out she had been talking behind your back, judging your parenting and openly criticizing you. You should have realized this earlier, yet you tend to hide from the agonizing truth, basking in the bliss of ignorance.

At the age of 43, I have amassed a long list of friends, adding new, crucial confidantes along the way but rarely letting go of any. It’s not easy to face reality and let go of a friendship that is adding nothing positive to my life.

At the age of 43, rather than tidying up my cupboard Marie Kondo-style, it feels like it’s time to tidy up my friendships and be honest with myself about the ones I want to hold on to and the ones I can let go of. I need to evaluate the precious time I have, how to spend it and with whom. It is time to move away from some, move closer to others, and allow space for new friendships to form.

It is time to go through each and every friendship I have, hold the memories close and ask myself one question honestly: Does this friendship spark joy? If the answer is no, it is time to say ‘thank you’ and let the friendship go.

I'm Going To KonMari My Friendships

 

We are Scary Mommies, millions of unique women, united by motherhood. We are scary, and we are proud. But Scary Mommies are more than “just” mothers; we are partners (and ex-partners,) daughters, sisters, friends… and we need a space to talk about things other than the kids. So check out our Scary Mommy It’s Personal Facebook page. And if your kids are out of diapers and daycare, our Scary Mommy Tweens & Teens Facebook pageis here to help parents survive the tween and teen years (aka, the scariest of them all.)

The post I’m Going To KonMari My Friendships appeared first on Scary Mommy.