Monday Notes: Bobby

letterFor my birthday this year, Grannie sent me one of those white, over-sized UPS envelopes. It was filled with memorabilia from 1990-1991, the year I stayed with her. Among my ACT scores and college acceptance letters was also a handmade card from a woman who was my best friend in undergrad. Her name was Bobby.

As soon as I read it, I began to cry…real tears.

The card, a piece of 8 ½ x 11-inch paper folded horizontally, included heartfelt words about me that she’d written for my 20th birthday. She’d expressed how she couldn’t afford to buy a card but how she’d hoped this gift would suffice. Bobby ended the sentiment by saying that I was what she considered a good “friend.”

That’s what made me cry. Bobby and I were friends for a maximum of two years.

During that time, people mistook us for cousins or sisters. We had the same skin tone and haircut and we were always together, no matter what. When she found out I was from Chicago, she nicknamed me Brini, after the infamous housing projects, Cabrini Green. I dismissed the offensive association because that was all she knew about the city. Because she’d deemed me ghetto, she would sing the Sanford and Son theme song when I entered the room. And because I didn’t have a lot of friends in undergrad, least of all a best friend, I let her.

handwritten_noteBobby was there when I first met Dwight. We double dated one night, and she cooed as he pushed me on a swing, “Brini’s in love!”

She and I flew to Charlotte, NC to attend my cousin’s graduation. She, Dwight, and I visited my family in Chicago. I was welcomed in her Detroit home, where her mother would make gumbo from scratch and send bowlfuls back so that we wouldn’t be hungry.

We were so close that we thought we’d join a sorority together. Unlike Bobby, I didn’t read the application thoroughly. I began to hand write my answers, instead of typing them. Upon realizing my error, I then used Wite Out and typed over the bumpy sludge. It was a mess. I submitted it anyway. Unlike Bobby, I was unable to attend an underground Christmas party in Detroit. And, unlike Bobby, I botched my interview.

Winter semester rolled around, and a mutual friend stopped us in our dorm’s hall, fishing for information. “Bobby, I heard you were on line.”

I responded for both of us. “We’re not on line,” I confirmed.

“I haven’t heard anything about you Kathy. Just Bobby,” she said.

The decline of our relationship hit me in that moment. Bobby was on line; she was initiated into the sorority that semester, leaving our “friendship” in the past. I’d see her at parties or on campus donning her shiny paraphernalia with her new circle of sisters. We didn’t speak the remainder of my time in college.

***

notebookAbout five years later, after Dwight and I had married and had our first child, somehow Bobby and I found one another through email.

“I’m sorry,” she wrote, “I know Dwight must think I’m horrible.”

I don’t remember my exact response, but I know it wasn’t nice. 1999 was the last time we communicated. I thought I’d unleashed the hurt of the situation in that last email. I thought I was over it. But it turns out, I wasn’t.

I’m sharing this because I was shocked that over twenty years later, her handwritten card would trigger such emotions. Clearly, I hadn’t released the sadness of the relationship. I’d just buried it. And so it is for many of us. Sometimes we think we’ve dealt with something when really we’ve just repressed it and replaced it with a coping mechanism.

But this time, in May 2019, I figured out why I was so hurt by the loss of our bond. Four years before our meeting, my mother had died. Three years prior to our friendship my father had sent me to live with Grannie. I’d already decided that I wasn’t good enough to be loved and her additional abandonment solidified it.

Like previous narratives, I had to also let this one go. Bobby was the type of “friend” she was because of herself; it had nothing to do with me.

Today, I’m clear about that. Should I come across another memento representing our friendship, I’ll send out new energy by thanking her for her companionship and wishing her well.

***

If you’re wondering, I’ve also since realized that real friends don’t offer up nicknames associated with infamous housing projects and television shows centered in a junkyard. But I’ll save those lessons for another blog.

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38 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Bobby

  1. Fabulous post, Katherin. Last night I had a conversation with someone, how we are never done learning and also never done dealing with our past. Sometimes because we don’t realize the impact a situation has made (or will make), sometimes because we realize it’s too painful and we’re not ready to deal with it, sometime because an even more painful situation needs or attention first.
    I personally also believe, the older we get and gain more knowledge about ourselves, the easier it gets to consciously choose to deal with something now, or park it for a while. Understanding that it has to be ‘sorted out’, but its ok to choose the how and when.
    What can be annoying for sure, that such triggers happen when you least expected, haha

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The thought that we are “never done dealing with our past” is exhausting to me Patty lol I so want to be done dealing with my past, but I’m afraid you might be right.

      As I move forward through life, I’ve actually consciously decided to deal with things now…feel the motion of it now, figure out why there’s an emotion, and then keep it moving in a healthier way.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. haha, yes it is an exhausting idea indeed!
        The good news; we can choose ourselves if, how and when we deal with it. Sometimes it might be even the wiser choice to park it for a while.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Sometimes we think we’ve dealt with something when really we’ve just repressed it and replaced it with a coping mechanism.” — Story of my life.

    Thank you for sharing this. I can relate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing!.. 🙂

    “Life gives us brief moments with another, but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a lifetime, So live that your memories will be part of your happiness.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re post reminds me of the iceberg and how there is so much beneath the surface. We all have negative experiences suppressed in the subconscious. I like your idea of sending her good vibes and letting go of what drains you one positive thought/molecule of energy at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Crystal, thanks for sharing your thoughts (and apologies for the delayed response). I’ve since read your blog post about the iceberg and (was it Freud’s theory?). I’d never heard of it, but I agree with the connection. It’s amazing what our brains naturally do to probably protect us from all sorts of things.

      Like

  5. As painful as it was, I’m actually glad you came across that note because it gave you some closure and understanding that you didn’t have before. Somehow, I don’t think you two would have remained friends even if you had joined the sorority…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree Ann. It was one more thing that I didn’t even realize I’d held on to, but needed to let go. I also agree that apparently, we probably wouldn’t have stayed “friends” because I don’t think we really were in the firs place.

      Like

  6. Here is the gold nugget in this piece: “Clearly, I hadn’t released the sadness of the relationship. I’d just buried it. And so it is for many of us. Sometimes we think we’ve dealt with something when really we’ve just repressed it or replaced it with a coping mechanism.” I find I have done this a lot in life, sweeping something under the rug, moving on, hoping it won’t catch up with me. But it always does, doesn’t it? To get to the bottom of it, we have to sit with our discomfort, let ourselves feel what we feel. Maybe journal about it, or meditate on it, or talk it through in therapy. Whether you want to confront Bobby or just let it lie is up to you. If she is out of your life now and you have no interest in rekindling a friendship with her, I’d just let it be. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right Joan. My feelings re-surfaced with this note; however, I think many of us are walking around living in past hurts as they re-surface in other ways (bad relationships, work, etc.).

      I’ve decided to let it be. I have no interest in reaching out and even understanding the why of it all from her perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! What a profound piece Dr. Kathy! Friendships can be such a tricky thing, and oh so complicated.

    I don’t want to judge Bobby since obviously I don’t know her but the Chicago hood and “Sanford and Son” reference in the middle of the piece had me thinking (before I even reached the end of your article), “What kinda friend was that?” It didn’t feel good but hey we’ve all had at least one “friend” like that. Glad you were able to release and exhale and let it go.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Racquel! Apologies for the delayed response; I was on a non-talking hiatus.

      Anywho, friendships (and really many relationships) seem to be tricky and complicated. On the one hand, I think it’s true and other hand, I’m always like, ‘this isn’t rocket science’ lol

      And yes…no judgment against Bobby at all, which is why I wanted to also show that we actually hung out together and shared memories, but yeah, as of today, those would be red flags for me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh Katie, do not be sorry! I am a firm believer that we pass through certain things in life for s reason! Looking back, what seemed to me at the time like an experience that broken me, my spirit, was everything but that! I am who I am now thanks to it!🤗❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Another brilliant post, Kathy. Often times, people who hurt us most are those we deem close; family and friends. Sadly, there are always warning signs but we choose to turn a blind eye. But I like your reasoning here, “Bobby was the type of “friend” she was because of herself; it had nothing to do with me.”

    btw, I just finished reading The Four Agreements. Thanks to you for the recommendation. I badly needed that kind of reminder. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yaaay! I really think it’s one of the most profound books I’ve read. It’s so simple, yet we don’t think of how we can take personal responsibility each and every day, regardless of what others are saying and doing.

      And thank you for the kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Goodness, Kathy, I am in total awe of you (again!). I imagine we’ve all been down this road in some form or another — yet seldom do we have your kind of courage to truly look at the hurt deeply in a way that doesn’t dimish us, which is simply honest. A long time ago a therapist told me that when she began college, a professor told her to never ever take anything personally. I’ve thought of his advice often in the sense that I truly believe that much of what we do, what we say & write, is really in reaction & conversation with ourselves…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thank you da-AL! It’s so hard to look in the mirror and reflect and think about why something happened the way that it did. I’m grateful for the spirit of self awareness and reflection. I totally agree with your former professor. That’s Agreement #2 of the 4 Agreements, and it’s super hard to enact in real life, but it’s very healing at the same time, once you remember it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is beautiful, beautiful, and beautiful, Kathy. So love how you replaced an old belief with one that serves you better as truth!!

    When I think of someone where I want to send love, I sometimes use these 9 words (my spiritual mentor J-R calls them 9 magic words!): I love you. God bless you. Peace, be still.

    Blessings to you, Kathy. ❤ . Thank you for sharing this – and bless Bobby too.
    Debbie

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you for sharing this. You were a kid, but that doesn’t mean that things don’t hurt us deeply. Sure, there were warning signs that this young woman might not be the best friend, but you wanted a connection. Deep down that’s all we want, to feel connected to others. So yeah….I get while it would still hurt inside.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Riiight! And I think for so long, I functioned from this place of wanting a connection that oftentimes I ended up just befriending and being friends with whomever wanted to, which wasn’t cool at all.

      Liked by 1 person

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