I Am Thankful I Have Friends Who Give Me a Second Chance
Have you ever done or said something that made you feel like you’d really ruined a friendship? Have you ever said something with meaningful intentions, but it came out all wrong? Have you ever done something that you thought would be super helpful, but later found out that you made things worse?
Can you hear me screaming “Yes! I’ve done all of those things!”?
I know I’m not alone here, but I am not certain how many of you women have made as many mistakes as I have—and I really have. I struggle with the answer to why. Am I selfish? Am I irresponsible? Do I consider others’ feelings? I ask myself these questions (and many more) every single time I screw up something between me and one of my girlfriends.
Here are three examples of what has happened in the past, and you can make your own conclusions as to what went wrong. Maybe you’ll even be able to identify with my struggle in these stories with situations you’ve experienced in your girlfriendships®.
I’ll start with the most current, and work my way backwards as best as I can.
Sometimes I talk too much without thinking first.
I recently shared information about a good friend (how ‘bout we call her Teri) that she wasn’t ready to share with anyone except me. Well, duh! But I saw the opportunity to help her by making mention of it. I was hoping she could see the situation in a different light. Well, that’s quite bold of me to think I believed I knew what she wanted/needed.
When she told me that she wanted to keep what she shared with me private, I realized I overstepped my bounds and felt about 2 inches tall. My intentions were pure, I just said the wrong thing. This is typical me. Trying to be a psychologist, therapist, counselor…. Really, all I can be is a friend. And that comes without a degree!
(I don’t want to disclose any more about this particular situation because I have already blown it once. I am not going to blow it a second time).
But Here’s Why I Think I Do This Kind of Thing
I love animals. I “hear” a neediness in them that tells me to help them. I was the kid who brought home birds and other animals that had been injured expecting to fix them. I brought home every stray dog. I fed them. I loved them all, but Mom wouldn’t let me keep them. We had no place to keep them. Mostly, we lived in apartments so the space was limited.
That same thing I felt as a child has poured over into my girlfriendships...and that time with Teri backfired. I love people. So when I “heard” Teri’s neediness, I wanted to “fix” it. But Teri isn’t broken. Her wings are intact. She can still wag her tail. And most of all she doesn’t need a trainer like me to teach her tricks.
Ok here’s a good one! Again, I really am unbelievable. You undoubtedly will not want to be my friend after this blog!
As I’ve shared in a different blog, I was one month pregnant with Lex when I moved to Chicago. I had just graduated from college, received my teaching credential, and also earned my master’s degree in education. I didn’t want to find a job as a teacher because Lex was due on May 5th. I was afraid that I would give birth before the end of the school year, and I just couldn’t be that disloyal to my students. So, I opted for another job, selling memberships at Bally’s Health Club in Chicago. I had a friend who was one of the managers, and she kindly got my foot in the door.
Actually, it was the perfect job because I could workout before I started my shift, shower, and start my day, all at no cost. The crew that worked there all did the same. We were all very close, and since I was new to the area, it was great to have a support system.
One of my biggest supporters was the club’s general manager, Moira. She took to me immediately. (I’m pretty sure it was because I was pregnant— I think she wanted to be too. Moira loved kids. She was dying to get married and start a family of her own. I believe she lived vicariously through me during my tenure at Bally’s).
I had only been working for eight months when, on April 12th at 10 pm, my water broke. It was three weeks before my due date. (I was right not wanting to take on a classroom full of kids, huh?) April 12th was the last day I worked at Bally’s (and anywhere else for that matter.) April 13th at 6:26 am, I became a mom, and that is what I’ve been ever since.
Wow, was I surprised that once I delivered, I would still have all of this extra “stuff” around my belly, and it wouldn’t get back to normal for a while. Honestly, I was totally shocked. How naïve was I? I couldn’t even figure out how to exercise. My hands were filled with diapers, I was breastfeeding, and some days I wouldn’t even get a chance to brush my teeth until Pete got home at 4 pm.
I was trying to manage a life, and Moira kept asking me if I was coming back to work and when she could see Lex. Number one, I was not going back to work. Who would take care of my precious child if I wasn’t there? No one but me was the answer. And number two, how on earth was I going to workout with these newly-huge boobs filled with milk? OMG! Listen to me. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE tells you how much that hurts. I am here to tell you…it hurts. Getting on a treadmill, lifting weights, putting on some sort of a sports bra was inconceivable.
But Moira persisted. So finally, after Lex was a couple of months old, I agreed to bring her into Moira’s office so she could sit with her while I did a modified workout.
What a joke. Months earlier I was filming a workout video for pregnant women, and now I could barely move. I was uncoordinated and sloppy. I couldn’t catch my breath most of the workout. The silver lining was how kind Moira was to allow me to even try to get me back into my routine. And she was the absolute best with Lex. She didn’t take her eyes off of her. She was in love.
That type of sloppy, uncoordinated workout only happened once because the weather started to get warm, and I chose to walk Lex in her stroller as much as I could outside. It was the perfect workout for a new mom.
Moira and I stayed in touch, but not as much as we could have. She was a career woman and I was a mom. Our lives operated on different schedules and we had different goals. I always hoped she would be in my shoes because she expressed that she wanted to be so many times before.
Fast Forward Three Years
Now I was pregnant with Kole, probably about seven months or so. The phone rang.
“Hi, it’s Moira. How are you?”
“Oh my goodness, I haven’t heard your voice in so long. How are you?” I said.
“I’m good. I’m getting married!” She said this in her nonchalant, elegant, very controlled voice. (She always had such professionalism. I found that to be one of her most attractive attributes.)
“What? Wow, who’s the lucky guy?” I said in a giddy voice.
“John Smith.” (Of course not the real name).
I have absolutely no idea why, but I started cracking up. I didn’t even know the guy. When I say cracking up, I mean to the point of not catching my breath. Then of course I started apologizing and laughing at the same time. I was a mess and the conversation was too. Once again, it was awful. Blame it on the pregnancy or maybe me just being an idiot. Either way, Moira never spoke to me again.
This one is awful so hang on to your seat. Even I can’t believe these words came out of my mouth.
When I lived in Chicago, I had another friend named Debra who had kids the same age as Lex and Kole. Debra and I were workout buddies. We were in great shape because we worked out Monday through Friday while our kids spent time in the nursery at the gym. We had an amazing friendship. Our values were so similar. How we raised our kids was in line with one another. We loved to clean. We adored fitness and eating healthy. We put our kids and husbands first, without neglecting the important things about ourselves.
Debra would tell me how much her husband worked, and how she wished he could be home more to help take care of her two children. He was a “low man on the totem pole” at his law firm, so he worked long hours trying to move up.
I felt bad for her because she was alone with those kids a lot. Pete was home every day by 4pm and helped with laundry, cooking, homework, and getting the kids to bed. Debra had no one. But she did a great job with them. In fact, she wanted to have another baby.
Here’s the Awful Part
Here’s what happened the last day that Debra spoke to me.
We decided to take all the kids to Wendy’s for lunch. Now, Wendy’s was not our typical lunch with the kids (as I said, we loved eating healthy), but they loved the outing so we bent a little that day.
We were waiting in the drive-thru when a woman walked past our SUV with one kid in her arms, and the other holding her hand. The one holding her hand was severely mentally handicapped. Both of our hearts sank. We immediately felt blessed to have healthy children, but also felt so sad that someone else had to endure the challenge. Debra said, “Oh, I feel so badly for her.”
(Yep here it comes—the response that was one of the most mindless things I’ve ever said.)
“Well that could be you”, I replied.
Five simple words that absolutely did not convey what I meant.
What I meant was, “If you have another baby, you will be raising them alone with two other small children and if he or she is handicapped, you may not have the help you would need. You’re already stretched, and I would hate to see you have to do it all on your own.”
My words came out sounding so cruel. They were meant to be practical and real, but they failed to be either of those. Forgive me Debra, wherever you are. I was wrong to judge what you wanted for you and your family.
Subsequently, she had another son. I never got the chance to know him.
See? I warned you the example was ugly.
The Lesson. There’s Always a Lesson.
There you have it. Three of my flubs. I have many more, but for the sake of trying to preserve some sort of positive vision of me, I should stop revealing my ugly side.
I don’t intend on being ugly, I really don’t. I (think) I have a very genuine, warm heart. I am always trying to save that stray dog. I don’t ever want to hurt feelings or push someone away, but that’s what happens sometimes.
I am very not perfect and have made endless mistakes in my girlfriendships. I bet you would say you have, too. I am just thankful for those who can see through my stupidity to the other side of my authenticity and stick around so I can have a second chance.
Lisa A.K.A Loopie