About nine years ago, a person who I thought was my best friend, a lifelong friend of 21 years at the time, came over to my house with a notebook and a list. She proceeded to tell me all the things wrong with me, all the bad or wrong things I had ever done in the past 21 years: I teased her too much, I was too honest about my feelings, I was too opinionated, I was a hypocrite, I was selfish, I was materialistic. She gave me examples and instances in which I did or said things she didn’t approve of. Apparently, all those years, instead of telling me what bothered or offended her at that moment, she let it fester. She kept a running inventory and then wrote it all down and blasted me with it. I didn’t argue. I probably did do or say all the things she charged me with. I apologized and said I never meant to hurt her or anyone else with any of my behaviors or words. I sobbed, as she sat stoic. I was eight months pregnant at the time, so I was a vulnerable, hormonal, emotional mess anyway. She finished by saying it was now up to me. I told her, “What is up to me? You don’t even like me.” She said if I changed, we could still be friends. I asked her again, “Why? You don’t even like me!” All our mutual friends sided with her. I was now left with none of the friends I thought I’d have forever.
So, where does my faith come in to all of this? Where is God? I allowed someone else to make me feel so unlovable, so unworthy and so very flawed, that it was difficult to feel like there was anyone else who could possibly feel differently about me. It felt like everyone must hate me like she did. After all, she was my best friend, and if my best friend couldn’t love me, why would my husband, my kids, my sister, my other friends, or even God, love me? Was I really that unlovable?
I don’t think she has ever thought it was wrong to do what she did to me. I deserved it after all for being such a horrible person. I deserved to lose my friends, according to her. That list of bad things negated everything good or positive I had done the past 21 years. I was shocked, stunned, angry, and overall, devastated. The memory is still so surreal. I don’t believe we really understand how much one individual can hurt another so profoundly– until it happens to us. There had to be something good to come from this; my faith told me so.
The lesson I learned is two-fold. One: The only thing that brought me peace was introspective prayer. I had to search inside myself for God. I had to remind myself that God was within me and always a part of me. How could that part be hateful? I learned to re-love myself through the love I had for God, because I believe He resides in me. I am made in His image and likeness. He was the one who would be strong for me, and He was the one to be the goodness within me. Two: God loves me. It is the first thing I learned during my childhood; God loves me. It doesn’t matter what I have done, what I have said, or what other people think of me. God’s love is unconditional. I apologized to my former friend, but I asked for forgiveness from God. I know I am imperfect, but God doesn’t hold it against me. Realizing God’s love for me helped me to allow other people to love me again: my husband, my kids, and my other friends. I was in such a depressed state, due to this episode, I pulled away from people. I didn’t see myself worthy of their love and affection, because that one person did not find me worthy. God changed that in me. If God, who is perfect, loves me and will always love me, whether I allow Him to or not, then I have to allow others to love me. My trust was so broken, but God mended my heart. I began to see God more in those other people, especially my husband and kids.
I suppose the there is a third thing that occurred to me and that is the idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a funny thing. I know the wise advice that forgiving someone is more for me than it is for the person who hurt me and holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. I get it. I agree with it. It’s so much easier said than done. I want to forgive her, and there are days that I have, and then there are days, even nine years later, that I revert to the hurt and yes, anger. Do I need to forgive her? Do I need to forgive myself? She caused me hurt, or had I actually caused it myself? I very well could have compiled my own list for her, but I wouldn’t. I could not inflict the same pain even on her.
It’s taken me a very long time to get over the hurt of that day nine years ago. I’m even nice to her when I see her. There are times I think I’m over it, then the hurt comes bubbling up to the surface days when I think too much, or when I’m feeling extra insecure or vulnerable in some way. It is those moments in which I remind myself of God’s love for me, my love for God, and my love for myself.
Charla is a life-long Catholic, married since 1995. She has three children who attend Catholic school and university. Charla has been teaching high school English literature at the same Catholic high school she attended for over 15 years. She has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Latin American Studies, and Secondary Education, as well as a Masters degree in Education. Charla has served as a lector and Eucharistic minister at her parish and school. She enjoys reading, cooking, running, and all activities involving her children. Her special devotions are to the Blessed Mother, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the Holy Rosary.