It’s not Love, Actually

It’s not Love, Actually

“To Me, You Are Perfect.” [Andrew Lincoln’s sign for Keira Knightley in the film Love Actually]

Sigh. If only something like this would happen to me at some point. In fact, I would just love to live in the world of Love Actually. The characters are impossibly charming, have great British accents, work at hip jobs that apparently pay a lot because they all live in horridly expensive London, and, best of all – they all get their happy ending.

This movie delves into the love between man and woman, man and unrequited crush, parent and child, sister and brother, husband and wife, sex fiend and Americans, boss and underling – but the one love I wish it resolved was that between best friends. Because then I could find the answer to my real-life problem in my favorite movie.

It’s funny, because my best friend introduced me to this movie and it’s one way we bonded. All I have to say is, “Hi!” and she’d dissolve in giggles, picturing the exact scene in the movie that kills us both. We have whole sets of dialogue memorized and can watch it over and over. Well, we used to anyway – when we were speaking to each other.

She and I had been friends for almost 15 years. We met while working at a coffee shop and bonded over our mutual disdain for our overly demanding boss (seriously, who hides gum behind the toilet to make sure we’re cleaning back there every. single. day). Later, I went to work for her at a different coffee shop and then moved in when I needed a place to live and she needed a new roommate. She introduced me to her circle of friends and I let her use my employee discount at the clothing store I worked. When I moved four hours away, we kept the friendship up and actually became closer.

She was two years older than me and a wonderful big sister to this only child. She did my hair and makeup before we went out. She was generous with her clothes and accessories. She scolded me when I acted inappropriately and dried my tears when I was hurt. She gave me tough love when I needed it and always encouraged me to accept God’s grace. She was my maid of honor and the first person I called after having my baby. It’s hard to imagine a life without her in it.

So, what killed this friendship? Time, distance, change, lack of care. I moved to England and for 3.5 years our communication was spotty. We’d talk on the phone every few months and each time swear we’d keep in better contact. Facebook kept us updated on the day to day, but not stay connected. The cracks started to appear when I missed her wedding. I was willing to fly back to the United States just for that weekend and would have – if only her wedding wasn’t the same weekend my husband was due home from a 5-month deployment. I had to put my husband first in this situation, and it really hurt her. I was upset that she didn’t understand – I wanted to so badly to be there, but couldn’t (and didn’t want to) miss his homecoming. I tried to make it up to her by surprising her with a live Skype toast at the reception and recording a message just in case the Internet connection failed. We eventually moved on from it, but it shook us.

The year following her wedding was extremely eventful for me. I made a lot of bad decisions and my husband I almost divorced several times. I hit rock bottom, contemplated suicide and found myself in positions I never thought I’d be in. I couldn’t tell anyone back home what was going on. It was nothing I wanted to share over Skype or telephone. So, I retreated into myself and my family. I gave vague details to my inner circle, but focused more on the work I was doing to heal. And I did start to heal.

My method of healing came at a price, though. When I moved back to the United States, I was so excited to see my best friend. I hadn’t seen her in almost 3 years and she had never met my son. She came up to visit and we finally got to have a long overdue heart-to-heart. I believe it was that heart-to-heart that killed the friendship. I didn’t know it, but she was extremely anxious about seeing me that weekend. Had I known that, I might not have dropped the ton of bricks on her that I did. I don’t think she was prepared to hear all of the things I told her.

After I dropped all my bombshells, things were awkward. I didn’t know what she was thinking and tried to give her space to process. However, it was eating at me. Finally I laid out my concerns to her in an email and waited to hear back. Again I tried to give her space, but must have pushed too much. We argued and shot angry texts back and forth, and a few weeks later I got the answer to my email. It was clear we were on completely different plains. She didn’t understand me, and I didn’t understand her.

I could fight for the friendship, but to be honest, I’m not sure I want to. Just writing that hurts and I feel like a jerk. What is wrong with me? Why wouldn’t I want to do my best to patch things up? A part of me thinks I should, just because of the history we share. But it’s not my job to patch things up – it’s our job. I can’t control what she thinks/feels/does; I can only control me. Right now, I don’t want anyone in my inner circle who doesn’t “get” me. I don’t feel like she “gets” me anymore, so I think it’s best if I back off for now. A good friend reminded me that sometimes there isn’t a wrong or right in a situation; it just is. I think that’s where we’re at.

What I feel now is sadness. I’m sad that I didn’t give her a chance to get to know the “new” me. I’m sad she won’t be a part of my day-to-day life. I’m sad that the memories of our good times now come with a twinge of pain in my chest. Time will tell if this is a break or a break-up; I’m ready to let time do its job. But I’m still sad.

strangers with memories

And I’ll always hold this movie dear to my heart, because it’s something I shared with her.

Today I’m linking up with the amazing ladies at

Finish The Sentence Friday

I love having some outside inspiration for writing. It makes me get outside my comfort zone and write about something that I might not have thought about. I also love link-ups because I meet so many great people!

I’m trying out a new Friday link up: Finish the Sentence Friday. The hostesses are Stephanie from Mommy, for Real, Janine from Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic, Kate from Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine? and Dawn from Dawn’s Disaster. This week’s topic is “When I was younger…”

Circa 1999

When I was younger, I lacked self esteem. I remember a nervous girl, wanting so badly to fit in and be one of the “cool kids” but feeling like I’d never be good enough. In high school, I floated between different groups, hoping to find my niche. I was in the advanced placement classes, but felt inadequate because I wasn’t the smartest. I played varsity volleyball, but felt ineffective because I wasn’t one of the stars. I had plenty of boyfriends, but felt ugly because certain boys weren’t interested in me. Drinking alcohol helped me break out of my shell, because when you’re buzzed and blacked out, you don’t care what other people are thinking. Alcohol really was liquid courage for me, but it ended up being my worst enemy (2 sexual assaults while blacked out before graduating high school is not a proud achievement). I didn’t know who I was, so I tried on many identities in my search for the “right one.” None of them fit and I ended up with what felt like a split personality: the smart, hardworking, good girl who turned into the loud, smoking, crazy party girl when the alcohol hit her lips.

Senior picture
Senior picture

I made so many bad decisions when I was younger because I was afraid. Afraid of ridicule, afraid of being disliked, afraid of being alone. This is one thing that terrifies me as a mother: that my child might grow up to make decisions based on fear. My parents did the best they could for me; I don’t blame them for my problems. I know that there are marked differences between my childhood and my son’s childhood so far, but still I worry that I won’t do the “right things” to help nurture a strong sense of self in him. I want him to know who he is and not be afraid to make decisions that honor that – even if those decisions don’t go with the popular opinion.

There are so many things I wish I could tell that girl. If I could sit down with my younger self, I’d tell her:

  • Don’t straighten your hair. Your curls are gorgeous if you just leave them alone. YOU are beautiful without changing what you look like.
  • Don’t sleep with that guy. He doesn’t love you and you will not love yourself for doing it. You will not find your self worth in the arms of random men. Respect your body and don’t be afraid to say no. If he does leave you because you said no, he didn’t deserve you in the first place.
  • Don’t strive for perfection. It’s not possible. Be happy with where you are and what you have accomplished. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being strong doesn’t mean suffering silently. Tell someone how much it hurts before it’s too late.
  • Don’t stop writing. It saved your life once and will keep wounds from festering. Writing is your voice in this world; don’t let your pain silence you.