My dear, sweet friend, who always dressed at the height of fashion and always seemed so put together, refused to step down from her pedestal as she replied, "How strange . . . I've been married longer than you have, and we've never had any marital problems. Never even fought. Too bad you didn't marry someone like my husband."
I got off the phone and cried. Maybe I was a loser. Maybe I should stop being so transparent because then other people can't take me down at any time. Maybe I should just toughen up?
Need an example of my idiotic transparency?
Go here: Love Sucks a Big, Hairy Eyeball
But today I realized something quite ironic. See, my divorce became official the day before Thanksgiving. At least I've been honest enough that most people understood why Cade and I could no longer be together.
Well, yesterday, this friend came to my house and told me she'd just gotten divorced too. I was shocked. "But I thought everything was perfect," I said.
"I wanted it to seem that way because things were so bad." She broke down and started crying. "I needed to tell you. But I also wanted to apologize. Remember when you called me, needing relationship advice?"
"Instead of telling the truth, I made my life seem perfect. . . . Elisa, I'm so sorry. He was having multiple affairs, gambling . . . No one knew and I was so embarrassed. Why would he spend the money our kids needed? Why would he have affairs--wasn't I good enough? And you--no matter what shit you're going through--you tell everyone all the good and bad like it's no big deal. I could never be like that and it made me want to take you down a notch. You don't wear the cutest clothes. You let your skeletons out of your closet . . . you do these things that bug me! But at the same time . . . they inspire me."
Tears flooded my eyes as she said the words.
"So I came over here to tell you," she continued, "I'm sorry and that my marriage wasn't perfect. No one's marriage is. And somehow you're the only person I can talk to because you'll understand and you'll tell me what you've been through too. And that transparency, it helps everyone around you realize they aren't alone. . . . So, do you hate me?"
I hugged her then, this huge hug. And. She. Hugged. Me. Back. Because in that moment--after years and years--we finally became true friends.
The moment reminded me of a saying I heard recently: girls tear each other down; women build each other up.
"Sometimes life is shit," I said. "But I'll always be here. Now sit your ass down and let's have some ice cream."
I scooped us bowls overflowing with mint chocolate chip goodness because she was having a hard time and it seemed like a great excuse for me to binge too.
And the point of this story is that we're all different. But everything will come out into the light someday. Maybe my approach to life isn't too bad after all. I'd rather tell the truth, showing the good and bad, rather than pretending everything is perfect when it's not. After this experience, I've decided that people who hide their imperfections are either just insecure, or trying to bring other people down.
How do you approach life's problems? Would you rather ignore them, or face them head-on? What have your results been like?
Also, how do you think she should have handled my initial question when I was crying out for relationship advice?