Have you ever ask God for something and once you received it, it didn’t turn out how you had imagined it would be? I have and it was during a time in my life when I felt lonely because I did not have any close female friends that I could hang out with on a regular. I asked God to send me a lot of friends and at my request, He did just that. I quickly became friends with Latrice, Denise, Stephanie, and Eve, whom I met at work. They introduced me to Camille and together, we became a clique. These were my girls; we did everything together and our sisterhood was solid (so I thought).
Truth: People’s actions tell you who they really are
I walked into work, happy to get out of the bitter cold, “Damn it’s freezing outside,” I mumbled under my breath as I begin to peel my coat and gloves off. I walked to the break room and put my lunch in the refrigerator before going to the Call Center.
“Hey Shay Shay.” Camille said, as I entered work and sat down at the work station next to her. Camille’s first name was Lisa, but we all called her Camille. Camille and I had formed a special bond and now referred to one another by our nicknames, Shay and Lea Lea.
“Hey Lea,” I responded, “How’s it been in here today?”
“Girl, busy – back to back calls. The little German kids are back at it…playing on the phones. They are getting on my last nerve tonight.”
“Great,” I said, as I put on my headset. I pushed the button on my keyboard to open my phone line – this allowed me to start taking calls.
We were Telephone Operators at a major phone company. Our job was to connect domestic and international long-distance calls when the customers called in. Sometimes the nights seemed to drag on forever; tonight, seemed especially long. It was the dead of winter and the snow was just beginning to fall. The forecast had called for a severe winter storm so I knew by the time Lea and I got off work, the roads would be snow packed and slick.
After about an hour of snow fall, we both looked outside, taking notice of the heavy downpour of snow. We looked at one another with a concerned look on our faces, simultaneously shaking our heads back in forth, knowing the drive home would be a force to be reckoned with…and it was.
Later that night when Lea Lea got off work, she waited for me to get off. She wanted to make sure we took that long drive home together to look out for one another. The drive home was treacherous and took twice as long as it normally would have. The roads were slick, as snow continued to fall. We trudged along the highway together until we came to the fork in the highway where we had to go our separate ways to get home. This was the beginning of many experiences that Lea Lea and I would go through together that would only strengthen our friendship for many years to come.
Now having a friend drive along beside you in the snow and ice packed roads to make sure you are safe may not seem like a big deal. After all, that’s what real friends do, right? However, for me, having that kind of friend meant the world. Driving on the dangerous roads that night, with my girl rolling with me until she couldn’t anymore, solidified our friendship. Remember, I had prayed for friends – you know, the ride or die kind of friends that have your back no matter what.
Truth: Irresponsibility produces severe consequences
Eventually, I got another job that was closer to home. Latrice hooked me up with a job at the same company that she and Denise worked for. They worked in a different department so I didn’t get to see them until lunch time or when we got off work. I was happy that once again, I was working with my girls. Since I was the only one that had my own apartment, my place quickly became the hang out spot, which I absolutely loved since not too long ago I was in my apartment alone, singing Mary J. Blige songs, begging God for friends. What I failed to do in my desperation for wanting to fit in and form a sisterhood with other women, was to pay attention to the dynamics of the different levels of life we were all on. Let’s just say…I found out real quick, when hard times hit, not everyone that claims to be your friend, really is.
“Where’s my damn car?” I thought, as soon as I stepped outside of my apartment building. I thought maybe I had forgotten where I parked and then it dawned on me that…”Oh shit! My car had been repo’d!“
I knew I was behind on my payments but at least I was still paying them something. Frustrated, I turned around to go back inside. Sighing loudly, I thought to myself, “Well…at least it’s the weekend and I don’t have to try to get to work.”
With no transportation of my own, I now had to take the bus to work, which wasn’t too bad because I no longer had to fight rush hour traffic. I could sit back and enjoy the ride; however, it bothered me that two of my closest friends were going to the same destination as I, but neither one had so much as offered to give me a ride to work. Although we worked at the same company, I was embarrassed about losing my car and couldn’t bring myself to ask for a ride. Three years had passed and I thought these ladies would be my life-long friends. Turned out, the one I was riding with from day one, was the one that, once again, I ended up rolling with.
“Shay, I’ll be there in the morning to take you to work.”
“No you will not! I will be okay Lea Lea. You will have to drive past your job just to drop me off and I don’t want you doing that,” I said.
“Whatever. I’ll be there in the morning. Love you.” Lea Lea quickly hung up on me.
I couldn’t do anything but laugh. True to character and although I was older, she behaved like the “big sister”. With that, I got up to get my clothes ready for the next day. The least I could do was be ready on time when Lea arrived in the morning.
We rode together most days and each day, we drove right past Lea Lea’s job to take me to work. She would then circle back around the block before heading off to work. It bothered me that the ladies I called my friends; that I also worked with everyday, still had not offered me a ride to or from work. In my mind, it was more about the principles of friendship than anything else. If it had not been for Lea Lea giving me a ride to work, I would have been riding the bus. I still rode the bus home after work but I didn’t mind one bit. I was grateful for the ride in the morning and plus, I had to do what I had to do until I could buy another car.
Truth: A person can only lie to oneself for so long before the truth smacks you in the face
I was in denial. I didn’t want to see the truth; however, the truth smacked the hell outta me one beautiful, sunny day while riding down the escalator after work. Denise, Latrice, and I were talking and laughing about the day’s events as we escalated down. I was headed to the bus stop, while they were going to the parking garage where they parked their cars during the day.
“So, what are we going to do tonight?” Denise asked, “Whatever we do, I just need time to run home and change my clothes.”
“I don’t know but we can catch up in a little bit and figure it out,” Latrice said.
We all agreed to touch base with one another later on that night. Just as we were walking off the elevator, Latrice turned slightly towards me and in a condescending tone said, “Oh…you need a ride home, don’t you?”
“Nah… I’m good,” I said calmly, “I got a ride. Hey, I’ll check y’all later,” I said as I walked off.
I was pissed. I held my head up high and proudly walked to the bus stop. In that moment, I vowed to myself that they would never get another chance to make me feel “less than” just because I was going through a rough patch in life…and they never did.
My walk to the bus stop that day was also the day I walked away from “the other girls”…forever.
Truth: You must let go to grow
Life and the people that enter our lives, owe us nothing. Deep down I knew my friends didn’t owe me a thing so I never asked them for anything. I always kept the attitude that I had to do what I had to do because I knew I had put myself in an uncomfortable situation. Now, did I understand why things happened the way they did at the time? No, I didn’t. Therefore, self-reflection was necessary. The other girls were simply a reflection of the parts of myself that I had not learned to love. Lea Lea (Camille) reflected the part of myself that I loved unconditionally.
Growth isn’t possible unless we first let go of the old. This requires letting go of old mindsets and beliefs. Everything happens for a reason and everyone that enters your life is there to teach a lesson and help you grow into the person you were created to be.
Truth: There is no greater truth than being true to yourself
Being true to yourself is everything! Ending my friendship with the other girls was the first step to being true to myself. I was afraid to let them go, but I knew it was necessary and once I did, I felt liberated. I no longer felt the need to appear as if I had it all together when the truth was that I was in a struggle. The truth was, they didn’t understand my struggle whereas, Lea Lea did. Our sisterhood, as we once knew it to be, was no longer. Latrice, Denise, Stephanie, and Eve remained the best of friends while Lea Lea and I remained standing together. This is how it is to this day. This is how it was supposed to be in the end. What is meant to be, will always be.