“I used to be a horrible friend.
I was the queen of ‘if she has/is, then I can’t have/I’m not. I am less than. I can never be.’
I operated from a deep-rooted place of extreme insecurity and anxiety. I fumbled about with all walls up, barb-wired and scarlet laser-covered. My anxiety reared its ugly head through sarcasm, pessimism, and judgmental chatter. If someone had something great, achieved something wonderful, naturally had something fantastic, I instantly felt less than. Scarcity steered the ship.
When I moved to Orlando shortly after high school, my 4 best friends left my life. The 3 Girls and The Boy. I really can’t blame them. How it was done still stings, I will give myself that grace. The Girls leaving hurt worse than The Boy leaving. There is always an unspoken hesitation with your first love, a slight protection and almost expectation of an ending to one day come. But you never, ever expect to lose your best girl friend. Let alone all 3. And yet, this was the swiftest, most painful, most needed kick in the face at that time. I was alone. A thousand miles away from home, and my closest support system, my chosen family for my high school years, had exited. Lost.
I’ll never forget the night The Boy left. As soon as I hung up the phone, I had to clock into my first-ever nighttime parade shift as Tinker Bell’s dearest fairy friend. Papa was in town to support the momentous dream come true. Had he not been there, smiling on Main Street, completely unaware of the hell I had suddenly found myself in, I would have called in sick. But I pushed. Sobbing the whole makeup, wig, wing application timeline…the dearest of fellow Mouseketeers helping me stand and dabbing my face, literally and emotionally holding me up, I let out one last sob. The parade gate opened. The lights turned on. The smile lit up. The wand turned upward. The show went on.
Nearly a year later, my sister and my mom came to visit. I was driving them to Downtown Disney and snapped on them for I can’t even remember what. This turned into pulling into a Disney tourist-dusted parking lot and dissolving into long overdue sobs. Therapy was recommended. Hugs were showered. An epiphany was had. I called the therapist’s office the very next day. Sometimes, the situations that are a harsh fist of fury really only need the gentle stroke of grace.
I met my therapist in February. Jesus next. Myself third. And after a couple of months of these newfound relationships and health I’d never experienced before, I met my Luke. I was baptized that October.
I showed up to my first therapy session with a shield of armor on, including NARS Cruella red lips, perfectly coiffed curls, and an all-black getup. I was outwardly convinced I was beyond help, but inwardly desperately clinging to hope the pieces of my life could somehow be picked up and Mod Podged into something worthwhile, something helpful, something that made sure no one felt the way I currently did. When I think back on this girl, I want to hug her so desperately. I want to take her for a drive, give her a tough-love talk, a Mickey Premium Bar, and tell her to keep going. I would also tell her to not respond to the text messages from Disney Guy and run for the hills instead.
Like anything else, things got worse before they got better. My therapist and I did the hard work of uprooting every tucked away story, fear, and belief I had about myself. Through never-delivered handwritten letters to several key players in my life, endless amounts of personality examinations and tests (holllllaaa, ENFP!), shared tears, and many laughs…the facade faded. Unknowingly, I began showing up in my true form: outwardly and inwardly. Massive ethnic earrings and messy waved hair adorned, I fell more and more in love with my life and more and more in love with the girl my Creator had in mind when he thought me up. The more I learned about myself and how my past puzzle-pieced together to birth certain stumbling blocks, the more I felt worthy of learning about, refining, and growing into.
In the passing time of self-discovery, I came to know who I am in my Creator’s eyes. On the passing Sundays, I showed up at a local church; awkwardly mouthing the word ‘watermelon’ over and over again so no one would notice I had no clue what the words are to ‘How He Loves Us,’ let alone what they truly mean. In my awkward attempts, I pushed and pushed. I did the easiest yet toughest thing to do: I kept showing up.
Before I knew it, my Luke entered my life. Encouraging me relentlessly in my continuous, tumultuous journey to better understand my Creator and my true self, he did the easiest yet toughest thing to do: he kept showing up. Mouthing the word ‘watermelon’ slowly but surely molded into scattered known and understood lyrics—all molding into a deeper known and deeper understood sense of self and sense of belonging.
I am far from a perfect friend. I am not a perfect partner, daughter, sister, coworker, or leader. I know I was made with a specific and unique purpose, and none of those things can be stripped or taken away from anyone else as they were made to be carried out specifically through my life on Earth. You, too, have all of these things. Sarcastic, hurtful comments upon seeing someone else live into their own God-given talents and abilities will do nothing but downplay and harm your own. It will further delay you getting to know and grow into who you were made to be and further delay the fruition of the gifts you were sent here to bring. This, alone, grounds me and provides a known and unchanging place to run to when I’m tempted to press the easy button and live from a place of snarkiness and negativity.
I was the queen of ‘if she has/is, then I can’t have/I’m not. I am less than. I can never be.’ But the reality is if she has/is, then good LORD, we need her! We need to throw a parade and encourage her to please keep going; to please keep growing into herself, pushing through her stumbling blocks and mouthed-watermelon days, and throwing her cherished, God-given capabilities out for the world: to help, to heal, to connect. If she has/is, and she can have/is…all the merrier and all the more hopeful for all of us. She didn’t get there through condescending comments. She got there by a tribe of all of us loving her and celebrating her, guiding her into herself, and doing the easiest yet toughest thing to do: showing up.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelsey Pfleiderer. Follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, and their blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Kelsey here:
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‘I called her, sobbing. Her response? ‘I’m driving you. Do you prefer me beside you or in the waiting room? What can I bring over in the meantime?’: Mom shares true meaning behind ‘it takes a village’
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