The trees lining her front yard were nearly bare. November’s chill had taken hold and here I was again: a mind consumed with work, motherhood, Christmas and trying to get it all right. But as I walked the flagstone path to her door, I attempted to leave everything I cannot control (which, as it turns out, is everything) behind. Service to others was one of the best distractions to keep anxiety at bay. So calling on the Kindness within, I rang her doorbell and breathed deep.
Cora answered the door right away. She flashed a weak smile, “Hey, thanks for coming.” Her black hair was high on her head in a messy bun held together with a blue Bic pen. She pushed her dark-rimmed glasses up with the base of her palm and motioned for me to come in.
“Of course, honey,” I said as I crossed her threshold. Following her into the kitchen, I took note of the impeccably clean house. Her tile floors gleamed and not a thing was out of place. When Cora was stressed, she cleaned.
“Tea?” she asked. I nodded.
I settled myself into her breakfast bar and waited. I already knew what she wanted to discuss, but I wanted to give her the space to bring it up however she felt comfortable. Cora had recently broken up with a good friend and it was killing her, though she tried her best to hide it. Friendship breakups are especially uncomfortable and heartbreaking. And Cora was having trouble navigating her feelings.
“So the bitch is posting all these thinly-veiled messages to me on Facebook,” she said as she handed my mug of tea. Apparently, we were jumping right in….
“She is? But I thought you blocked her.”
Cora dismissed me with a wave. “I use Ben’s account.”
“I see,” I said softly, giving her space to continue.
She leaned on the counter across from me, clasping her mug with both hands. “Yeah, it’s shit like: ‘Let go of people who drain you’ and ‘Learn to accept an apology you never got.’ It’s fucking ridiculous.”
I observed her agitation and took another deep breath. She was in so much pain. Anger, guilt, sadness and shame bounced around her like children vying for their mother’s attention. “I suppose it’s her way of handling her feelings,” I said finally.
“By blaming me?!” she exclaimed. “What about taking some fucking responsibility? Instead everyone just thinks I’m the bitch?! How is that fair?”
I reached across the counter, offering my hand. “Oh, honey- nothing about this is fair. And you have no control over how she chooses to deal with this or what she decides to tell people about what happened. The same is true for her, right? Who’s to say she’s not worrying about what you’re posting?”
Cora scoffed at that, “I just post songs lyrics on my Instagram. I’m not launching a full-scale social media attack like she is!”
I stifled a smile. “Cora, she’s hardly doing that.” Tapping my hand again on the counter, I opened my palm asking for her hand. She finally relented. “You’re hurting. This is devastating- what’s happening right now. You two have been friends for a decade!”
She hung her head and began to sob. “I feel so connected to her still, Danielle. It’s why I can’t let go, why I have to know what she’s doing and how she’s feeling. I can’t cross this impasse though. It’s over. I know it, but we’re still connected.”
I nodded in understanding. “And that’s why it hurts so much.” Squeezing her hand lightly, I whispered: “You are going to have to sit with this hurt, sweetheart. There is no way around it. You can delay it, but it will chase you until you listen.”
“This is worse than my very worst breakup. What the fuck is with that?!” she said, wiping mascara stains from her eyes.
“Who would you have gone to if it were you and Ben breaking up?” I asked.
She didn’t hesitate. “Her,” she said.
“That’s what the fuck is with that.”
Cora bent over the counter, softly banging her forehead against the cold granite. “Danielle, what am I going to do?”
“You’re doing it,” I told her. “I’m not going to tell you to stop checking out her shit or to try and put her out of your mind. But I will suggest being kind…”
“I am NOT going to talk to her, Danielle!” she shouted, cutting me off.
Calmly, I said: “I meant to yourself, honey. You’re beating yourself up over this. I can feel it. And I know that you pray so here is my prayer suggestion: ‘God, may I see myself as you do. May I be willing to accept my innocence. May I be willing to forgive.'”
Rubbing her eyes again she said, “Text it to me.”
“I will,” I said. “Every morning. For as long as you need.”