She's A B*tch

I've always said that if one song played when I entered a room, it should be

Timeout -- remember when Hype was THE MAN when it came to music videos? Then he did Belly and that went, well... belly up...

I've been called a B*tch a lot. To my face and behind my back (I'd always prefer it to my face). Sometimes I've not deserved it, a lot of times, though, I have. There's a line Tyler Perry's character Madea has in Madea's Family Reunion: "It's not what they call you, it's what you answer to..." I sometimes wonder how much of this is a self-fulfilling prophecy: I am a b*tch (sometimes) because I call myself one, not the other way around...

Story time, boys and girls...
My junior year of high school, my BFF (at the time) broke it off with her long-time on-again/off-again boyfriend (wait, what's "long time" when you're 16?). Shortly thereafter, she and a long time male friend, RJ, began secretly dating. The problem was, he was a)her ex-bf's BFF AND was kinda in a relationship with his long-time on-again/off-again girlfriend, Liz. The only people who knew about this "torrid affair" were myself and one other girl who rounded out our three-musketeer trio (no, seriously, everyone at school called us the three-musketeers...). Eventually the BFF ended things, citing the fact that he'd been involved with most her female friends. Unfortunately, by that time, most everyone else had begun suspecting something was up, including ol' boy's on-again/off-again girlfriend.

My friends and I spent a lot of time in one particular faculty member's office because it was conveniently located in the student center. There were chairs outside the office that we would often sit in. One day I was sitting outside in these chairs when Liz came up. She looked through the slim window into the office and saw the BFF inside with a group of people. She sat in the chair across from me and began asking me about the nature of the relationship between the BFF and RJ. I explained to her that there was nothing going on and that everything was fine. Liz wasn't dumb, she knew I wasn't being 100% but that I also wasn't going to rat the BFF out. I tried to flip it around and make it about her and RJ but she wasn't having that. Eventually she stood up, looked through the window again and walked away. When I got up and walked into the office, it was clear that the people inside the office, my BFF in particular, had their own opinions about what was happening outside. The tension was thick so I just left, not feeling the need to explain myself.

A few minutes later, class began and it was the period that the BFF and I shared. The tension was still there. We sat next to each other in the back of class and often passed notes. The note passing began and I could see from her short responses that she was pissed. After class, she and I had it out. No words were spared. She shut me down when she said, "You know, I'm always sticking up for you because people are always calling you a b*tch. I'm always telling them they just don't understand you. Apparently they do."

I wasn't stupid. I knew that was a perception of me, but it hurt that a friend of mine called me that, indirectly and if I were to be completely honest, it was one thing to know in my mind that people were saying that about me behind my back; it was another to hear it said aloud.

Ultimately, the BFF and I had a "come to Jesus meeting" and we hashed it out. We got over it, we grew up, we moved on -- but that incident stuck with me.
Since then, I've sort of accepted this label. Less as a truly accurate description of who I am and more of the perception. I'm usually the one who will say what no one else will, or say the things no one wants to hear. It seems to be human nature to attack what we don't like or understand.

Two days ago, I was searching through old e-mails for something when I came across one I'd sent to a friend at the end of my freshman year in college. As I re-read the e-mail, I admonished myself for the harsh tone. I felt I was overly aggressive, rude and, well... a b*tch. I re-read it to another friend and she agreed; a third friend, however, said she didn't think it was all that bad. I don't recall the circumstances that prompted the e-mail (though I vaguely remember being hurt by something) but I kept saying that I would never send such a biting e-mail and I would definitely have such a conversation via phone. I think I've grown since I was 16 and 17, into my b*tchiness. That is to say, it's not reckless and it's not without purpose. It's never meant to demean or hurt and sometimes it's just about protecting me.

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