-By Jennifer Wray
As we get older, the circle of people we consider “friends” slowly starts to shrink. Our friendship count goes down. Not only have I questioned and terminated friendships in my 30s, but I’ve been called out, too.
There’s one altercation I remember clear as day. In the heat of my argument with Mela, my friend, I called her a “bitter bitch.”
Well, I didn’t call her a bitch. I said, “You bitter bitches killllllll me!” That’s the same though, right?
I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I knew she was my sensitive friend, but she had a slick tongue, too.
Mela’s ex-husband cheated, left her for another woman, and had a baby with his mistress.
All the above happens every day, but here’s where it gets sticky: I fell in love with someone going through a divorce of his own, and back then, you couldn’t pay me to believe I was wrong. “He needed me.”
Well, that’s what he told me and I told myself. His ex-wife warned me of everything I eventually experienced – the cheating, the lies, and the disrespect. When I came to grips with leaving him, I called Mela. I needed her to give me the pep talk: “Screw him! It’s his loss!” (You know how we do).
But here’s what I hadn’t thought about: Mela was once on the other side of this in her marriage. Nevertheless, I called her in tears with the same song: “He lied, he cheated, and I’m hurting!”
Mela waited for me to pause before she hit me with: “You didn’t think you would get away with dating him without consequences, did you?”
Mela’s response was void of sympathy, and her response was rooted in her feelings from when her husband left her five years ago. I was so upset that she responded so coldly.
Before I knew it, words followed by smoke were flying out of my mouth — “You bitter bitches killllll me! That man was in divorce court before me, and the bastard didn’t tell me he was married.” This was during my toxic, go-for-the-jugular era. I added, “Your boo is still married, yet you still sit around waiting to rekindle that old flame.”
Clearly, I wasn’t thinking about her past pain.
Before I knew it, she was crying, and there was no turning back. I had never called any of my friends out of their names. Sadly, I knew where it was coming from — my ex and I name exchanged, and this had become my toxic norm of communication. I figured we would recover. I mean, Mela knew I was in a toxic ass relationship, right?
Well, Mela wasn’t having it. She was done with me.
After a lot of healing, growth, and self-love, I understood Mela’s pain, the pain from her situation, and the pain I caused her. My mom once said, “Just because it’s true doesn’t mean you have to say it.” Mom was right, as usual.
No matter how you’re feeling, you owe respect to your friends. The truth is, I was bitter with my damn self. Disrespecting Mela was my ass-backward way of dealing with my pain, the pain of my ex breaking me down from the inside out, slowly but surely. The real enemy was me, the idiot who allowed a man to run her over for years, Monster Truck-style.
It took Mela years to forgive me, and our relationship is still not the same, but you can believe no longer do I call my friends names or I allow it. That was the last time I allowed my bitterness to be projected on those I love most.