“I know that because God loves me I can do wonderful things. I can try great things, learn anything, achieve anything.” – Maya Angelou
The above quote comes from a card I bought years ago and keep front and center on my refrigerator door. Maybe the picture of a woman and a dog walking along a beach spoke to me as much as the message. I think I bought it for someone else, but ended up signing the inside to myself while grappling with a major life decision: “I love you Marla! Stay true to yourself. Love, Me! 6-21-08. P.S. Had this card since February.”
There is another article I keep on my frig, a “What I Know for Sure” piece on intuition by Oprah. I’ve long been an Oprah follower (could it be because she’s an unmarried, child-free, Aquarian journalist like me?) and really believe in her message of raising one’s spiritual awareness rather than blindly believing religious dogma. You can recite Bible verses, find Jesus and faithfully attend church and still be disconnected from God and yourself. Just look at the epidemic of debt, obesity, workaholism, divorce and addiction in our country. For me, learning to connect with Self and Soul and Source is the path to living an authentic, joyful, deeply spiritual life.
A few excerpts from the article:
“What I know for sure is that if you were going to buy only one issue, ever, of O, this would be the one. Learning to trust your instincts, using your intuitive sense of what’s best for you, is paramount for any lasting success. I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life. And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t listen.”
“How many times have you gone against your gut, only to find yourself at odds with the natural flow of things? We all get caught up in the business of doing, and sometimes lose our place in the flow. But the more we can tune into our intuition, the better off we are. I believe it’s how God speaks to us.”
“And I often tell friends: When you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Get quiet so you can hear the still, small voice – your inner GPS guiding you to true North.”
So this card I keep on my frig goes back to a time I had planned to move to another state and temporarily stay with a friend and her husband until I found a job and an apartment. The date has significance; it was about a month before I was supposed to be moving. And I wasn’t planning to go anywhere. In her mind, I know she thought she was doing me a favor. But the troubling reality is this person kept telling me she was unhappy.
Out of respect for her, I won’t go into the details. Let’s just say it didn’t sound like a good situation to get myself into the middle of, and deep in my gut, I kept getting a bad feeling. Her husband liked to put me down, as well as where we grew up – “Rebels” on the south side of town. And, besides the fact she had introduced me to a couple of bad habits as a teenager, she was already making plans to play matchmaker with one of his friends, walk and train my dog, and start me on a fitness regime. I was just beginning to learn to set healthy boundaries with people and worried my needs and wants would get washed away by the tide of her overbearing personality.
Still trying to heal from a mentally and verbally abusive romantic relationship that had ended, I became frozen with fear at the thought of being around another domineering person who had long tried to run the show and tell me what to do. I’m sure some of it also stems from being a person who doesn’t like to be dependent on others. And a person who grew up feeling controlled, criticized and never able to express my feelings or what I wanted. I just couldn’t sell myself on giving up my stable job, even though it was making me unhappy, and life for something unknown and potentially ending up in the middle of a tumultuous situation.
Unfortunately, I handled the situation poorly when it came to telling her I wasn’t going to come. It got pretty far in the process and I started dodging her calls and never really told her. I told a mutual friend who was going to help me move out there. I can admit it was rude, and I acted like a jerk, but I had my own reasons. I didn’t want to be pressured into doing something I didn’t want to do.
There were four of us who used to run around together, and a couple of years earlier, they all came for a girls’ trip to visit me in Michigan. These two “friends,” the one who was going to help me move and the one who was going to take me in, stood in my apartment and yelled at me and the other friend – I mean in our faces yelling at us – until we took off and left them there and went dancing. Needless to say, the fabulous foursome we were in our 20s slowly started to deteriorate and actually became dysfunctional and toxic. And I had reason to fear how the confrontation would go down. A few months later, when I tried to explain myself, a huge fight ensued over the phone. We haven’t spoken since.
In my defense, I also spent the next year or more trying to ask for her forgiveness. I apologized in letters and cards, but never got a response. Calls were never answered or returned. A Facebook friend request got ignored. So, I stopped groveling and decided to move on with my life. And it’s okay. I don’t wish her any ill will, and wish her well, because for many years of my life she was a very dear friend.
There are several morals to this story:
• Female friendships can get pretty precarious as you get older, especially if each person changes in different ways and the friendship doesn’t evolve or you cannot find some common ground to connect you.
• Go with your gut. Trust yourself and the still small voice within. If the thought of doing something makes you nauseous or your heart race, that is probably a good indicator not to do it.
• Be a big enough person to own your role in the problem, act like an adult and have a discussion. Sometimes, minor conflicts left to fester can snowball into huge meltdowns and arguments.
• Not all friendships need to end; some just need to change and can change if both people are mature enough to talk it out and not force their position or agenda on the other. Others do simply run their course. Mourn the loss of the relationship like any other. Be grateful for the good times.
• Realize you are better than acting pathetic and begging someone to be your friend. Go find yourself a new one or learn to be happy doing things alone.
• If a person does not want to accept your apology, that is their right and also their issue. They may have their reasons, and there are always two sides to every story. I have forgiven a few people and never spoken to them again.
• Don’t take it personally or beat yourself up over what happened. Stand in your truth and know who you are. Remember the fun you had and cherish the memories. Learn to go on and have a fabulous life.
One thing I know for sure: Take good care of you – do what is best for you – even if it means someone will be mad at you or hurt. You may lose a relationship, but it beats losing yourself. There are times I have missed the friendship, but I have never regretted not moving.
And remember this advice from the inside of the card: “As you journey on the path the Creator has made for you, may you continue to walk in goodness, in gratitude … in joy.”