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5.07.2010

An Open Letter to my Friends

Before I begin, I want to be clear about a few things. One, this is an open letter to my friends. Not some of you, not a few of you, not the young ones, not the old ones. Not the ridiculous ones, not the crazy ones. Not the good ones, not the bad ones. Not whatever group you can find that you don't belong to. It's addressed to you. Yes, you. You right there. Also, there are a lot of reasons I'm doing this, but the two I want to share are 1)it's too many of ya'll to get individual and 2)there's something about the open letter format that will help me make a much larger point. Finally, though I anticipate this backfiring in some way I haven't even thought of, keep in mind that I've factored that in and still, the desire to do this is strong. Ok, with that said, let's get to it, shall we?

Dear you,

I love you. I do. If I let you into my circle, I care about you a lot and I love you. I take friendship very seriously. I think if I call you friend, I owe you my loyalty, honesty and shoulder.

But you know that, right? Cause we tight...right?

I digress...

On the flip side of that, I think you owe me the same thing. The loyalty, the honesty and a shoulder. No more, no less than I owe you.

99% of you, however, couldn't give me loyalty, honesty or a shoulder if I labeled it, and handed it to you. I'm serious.

Loyalty - Dictionary.com defines this word as faithful to one's oath, commitments, or obligations. For those slow on the uptake, that means when you say you're going to do something, you do it. For the overachievers among us, that means everytime. But factor in human error and such, I'll give you most of the time.

So most of the time when you say you're going to call, you call.

Most of the time when you say you're going to be somewhere, you are.

Most of the time when you say you're going to do something, you do.

But let's go a little farther, because we're talking about big shrimp here. We're talking about friendship.

When you say you care, you show it -- you go past saying it to showing it.

When you say you want to help, you do it. You go past saying it to, doing it.

Oh and get this right here... it means you don't talk about me to someone else disrespectfully. You don't tell them things about me that only you know and you definitely don't throw me under the bus with someone else.

As a loyal friend our friendship is important to you.

So all the times you told me you wanted to help because you cared, but never called me back and never showed up? You weren't being loyal.

When this became so much of a habit that I didn't even call you to tell you that something really major had happened to me -- that wasn't because I don't share things. That was because you're disloyal.

And yet, like an idiot, I still called you friend.

Honesty - Dictionary.com defines this word as truthful or creditable

So that means when you speak, you tell things to the best of your ability in the most truthful way.

That means you don't pretend to be things you're not.

That means you don't purposefully set out to lead others astray.

But, again, gotta go further because we're talking about something major.

That means you don't voluntarily tell me that you want to see me, but never make plans to do so.

That means you don't call me friend and treat me like...well...like an enemy.

That means you don't misrepresent who I am to others as it fits your needs.

Funny how honesty plays into loyalty, right? I mean an honest person does what they say they will do. A loyal person wouldn't set me up by telling me one thing and doing another, right?

Crazy ish, man. CRAZY ISH.

The breakdown of this, the application, the takeaway, if you will, is that you wouldn't know honesty if I wrapped it up in a big bow and put it under your tree with the label "honesty."

When given the chance to be honest, you choose not to be. When honesty would be easier, you choose the road less traveled. When honesty would strengthen our bond, you choose to break it.

But like an idiot, I still called you friend.

A shoulder - We won't waste time with a pointless definition. Here, let's get right to it.

If I can't get you on the phone...like ever...but you always get me when you call? That's not working right.

If you only seem to know my name (or number) when you need something? Oh gosh, this is so lopsided, we're going to need Jesus to pick it back up.

This could all be boiled down to this: Do you give me the opportunity to access you in the same way I give you opportunity? Be honest, you don't have to share with the class.

And yet, like an idiot... yeah you know.

Am I being too harsh? Nah. I haven't been harsh enough. Like an idiot, I've been letting you do whatever you wanted to. Not asking you for more than you gave me. Not withholding what you asked of me. Never complaining, always dutiful. Always thinking of how I can help you be better. Wondering, what I have that I can give you to help you achieve your goals. Who do I know? How can I help? These questions are always foremost in my mind with my friends because I, and brace your hats for this dude, love you.

I wasn't kidding when I said it. I care about you. I want you to be all the things you want to be plus some things you had no idea you could be. I want you to be happy and love life. And whatever I have to do, even sacrifice things, to help you with that. I'm game.

Simply put, I'm a better friend to you, then you could ever dream of being to me.

The irony is that it's so easy to give to people who give back, but I'm tired. I don't got it in me anymore to give one iota more to you than you give to me. Some sadistic part of me wishes I did, but you took it all. Every.last.drop.

So I'm the idiot here. For sure. Only idiots do the same thing over and over expecting different results. Only idiots let people treat them any kind of way and come back for more because they hope it will be different.

Yo, if I called you and told you my boyfriend never had time for me unless he wanted something, never called me unless he needed something, lied to me, hurt my feelings and was dismissive, you'd cuss me out for giving that dude the time of day.

But you? Apparently you get a free pass to do whatever you want.

Don't mistake this as me blowing up an incident or two into something bigger than it is. This is years, years of me watching you do the same thing over and over again. The lies, the misrepresentation, the manipulation. But probably what hurts the worst is being taken for granted and advantaged of. Being used for whatever you wanted and then discarded later. You pretending, when talking to me, to have a vested interest in my life and my future but then taking the first chance to sell me up a creek if it benefited you in any way.

If we want to go all the way live, I can tell you I dated a drug addict and even HE knew enough when he was screwing up to at least PRETEND to be sorry about it. You're either so callous or so dumb that you can't even see it. The worst among you still don't know this letter is directed especially to you.

What made me write this? A lot of things, but especially the fact that I'm tired of having moments every day where I seriously wonder why I bother with people. If all I'm going to get are selfish, needy, using, manipulative, sociopaths -- then why take the time or make the effort? I don't like feeling that way so I'm about to relax, relate, and RELEASE.

Am I perfect? Absolutely not. I'm too daggone sarcastic and snarky. I don't think before I speak. I don't use tact. Sometimes, I prioritize stuff the wrong way. I hurt people's feelings sometimes and don't apologize. I take stuff personally. I push the boundaries. But dammit, I'm loyal to your disloyal and dishonest self and help me sweet baby Jesus if when you need me, I'm not right.there.

But you know what? This letter wasn't ever really about you or to you. It was about me and for me because I'm the one who woke up one day surrounded by way too many users. Way too many people who only wanted me for what I could give them. Way too many people who have no idea about the things I've been through because it never occurred to them to ask or care.

I'm the one who decided it was easier to hold it in than share for fear that you wouldn't care. I'm the one who let you do whatever you wanted to do to me without calling you out for it. I take full responsibility for everything I did that got me here.

I'm the idiot - wait - I was the idiot.

Cause right now.

This shit is OVER.

You got it?

It's done.

It's a new world order, man, and we got rules in this thang.

Loyalty, Honesty and a Shoulder. Anything less need not apply.

I want you here, but you can't stay if you won't step your game up and step it up immediately.

Love (and yes, I mean that sincerely),
Ashley L. Smith

P.S. This ain't gotta be a big deal. It's not for me, cause when I put it here, I wiped my hands of it. To quote my BFF, "I'm rewriting my script and if you want a part in it, you gotta come correct."

P.P.S. Because I'm realizing now how many people who "kinda" know me are reading this, I feel like I have to add that I have some really amazing people in my life. I know that and they know that -- which was why I didn't mention that fact. Also, I feared that in mentioning that caveat, I would've given some folks the loophole they needed to reassure themselves that they're not who I'm talking to, so I add also that if you have to wonder, that speaks volumes.

Author's Note: I posted this, now, a little over 24 hrs ago and in that 24 hrs, I've had a lot of feedback. Mostly from people who don't know me "in real life." I'll probably do a post on the types of responses I got, later, but I want to say that in writing this it became a call to me to be a better friend in ways I hadn't considered. I hope that, whether you know me "in real life" or not, whether we're truly friends or not, this open letter will encourage you to do the same. I'm learning it takes a special kind of person to be a good friend.



Well is it me, or can it be I am a little too friendly, so to speak? Hypothetically say, I supply creativity to what others mistake as a form of self hate, only to make an enemy, which results in unfortunate destiny. They dog me out, then be next to me, just 'cause I am what some choose to envy.

3 comments:

jjbrock said...

WOW! Ms.Ashley, I love your writing...In every friendship there is someone who gives and someone who takes...That is the only way it can work...But I believe at that moment of giving and taking we need to realize and recognize who's doing what.

The mark of a true friend...is when you put the accomplishments of another above your own...when you put the well being of another person above your own...This is a hard part of being a friend...the taking part is easy...the giving though is just a little bit tougher.

Love the post!

TiaBoBia said...

This letter was amazing! I could definitely be a better friend.

Jillian Pennyman said...

I think what I loved most about this is that I could see you verbally saying all of those things, like this is truly authentic. I added a quote to my facebook and I've even thought of using the same quote on my status considering my personal circumstances.
You are truly inspiring.
Jill

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