The Precarious Line Between Being A Good Friend and Being Messy

Before I get started with this post, I want to plug a new blog I've started. Conversations With M. Smith is a blog dedicated to some of the hilarious and hilariously poignant conversations I have with my dear mother. Check it out!

At first glance, it may seem like there is no precarious line between being a good friend and being messy. In fact, it may seem that the two are opposites. How could you be messy if you're trying to be a friend? Generally that's probably a good rule of thumb, but sometimes the line is precarious.

On tonight's episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, Phaedra finds out that Kenya now wants to make her own version of an exercise DVD Phaedra initially brought to her to produce. Their production deal never panned out so Kenya decides to do her own -- seemingly to get back at Phaedra (otherwise, what was the point?)

Kandi finds out about this when she goes to get her hair done and immediately calls Phaedra to let her know.

Messy or no?

Or, from the personal files - a woman who does not work in my school but works WITH my (and other) schools came to my office to spill tea on one of my coworkers. She told blatant lies that if they got out could hurt my co-worker professionally. I told my co-worker what was said.

Messy or no?

I think that what Kandi did was messy. That situation didn't really involve her and if Phaedra had've been dotting her eyes and crossing her ts, this never would've happened anyway. The situation was a mess before Kandi involved herself. I have no doubts Kandi called bc Phaedra's her friend and she thought Kenya was committing an injustice, but what did she solve by calling Phaedra? Phaedra would've found out anyway and it didn't need to include Kandi. In fact, in a subsequent conversation with Kenya, Kandi admitted she didn't want to be in the middle of it, but that's exactly where she put herself.

Confronting Kenya in Phaedra's absence, ESPECIALLY after she'd already told Phaedra what was going on only furthers my assessment of what she did as messy.

In my own situation, I thought awhile before I did it. I didn't want to start a war of he-said/she-said. The individual who "spilled all this tea" had only confirmed for me that she wasn't to be trusted, and possibly even potentially dangerous (not necessarily physically, but given the fact that she travels between various schools in our district, perhaps professionally). Was it worthwhile for me to insert myself into a potentially dangerous situation and essentially give up all control of how it played out. Once I told my co-worker, I could ask her not to say I told her and she might agree, but one thing I know is that no matter who they are, any information that needs to be preceded by "don't tell anyone" is usually too juicy for folks to keep secret.

What I ultimately decided was that we weren't talking about mean words that might hurt her feelings. To share that truly would've been messy. We were talking about non-factual words that could hurt her ability to get another job in our district (maybe even beyond). Sharing this information would help her be able to cut any of that off at the head, or so we hope. At the very least she could be on alert for suspicious rumors floating around about her and know where it came from.

I know -- I know -- I haven't made the most excellent case for what's so different. I mean maybe Kandi wanted Phaedra to know because she wanted her friend to have the leg-up she felt she deserved. But the difference is, this is the nature of competition. You do good work, and you do it better, maybe faster and you win. You copyright your stuff. You don't piss people off (if you can help it). I'm not saying Phaedra deserved to have her idea stolen, I'm saying having this one idea taken didn't really change too much for her. She still has her name and her own coined-phrase to help her DVD succeed.

On the flip, my co-worker could lose her job and not be able to get another one. This isn't business, this is adult rumors that have potentially devastating consequences, and there was just no way I could look her in the eye knowing that if I didn't tell her who was saying this stuff, she might never know. Phaedra would've eventually found out about Kenya. No doubt about it.

So there's the line. It's messy when the worst possible outcome isn't actually all that bad. It's being a good friend when you push your friend out of the way of the train.


Forgiving a Debt

Forgiveness is one of those things that I'm always pondering and always reflecting on in some way. I'm not great at it, but I like to think that I'm striving for excellent. And part of that has been truly understanding what forgiveness is, what it looks like, feels like, sounds like; what it produces.

And as I've said time and time again, my life is a series of motifs. So when there's something I need to handle, whatever is at the root of it will pop up again and again until I handle it. It's true.

I think forgiveness will always pop up and stick me because of the forgiveness I need to give my father. I'm not there yet on this journey but every time I work through the forgiveness of one person, I get closer.

Tonight I read a New York Times article, "Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?" which tells the story of a murder victim's parents who seek to forgive her murderer who also happens to be her boyfriend.

I was struck pretty early on by the mother's explanation for why they had to forgive.
I wanted to be able to give him the same message [of forgiveness]. Conor [the murderer] owed us a debt he could never repay. And releasing him from that debt would release us from expecting that anything in this world could satisfy us.
I struggle with words like "I'm sorry" and "I apologize" because I often mistrust the intent. I feel that many people don't take those things seriously and I've frequently felt that ultimately they're just words.

And when I've been the person who needed to apologize, I've been keenly aware of how empty those words can be -- ironic when you consider how much you need them to convey. It's all about this debt at the end of it. A usually impossible to repay debt. Sometimes a debt that you can lessen, but it's not often that we can truly repay it, truly restore what we took or ruined when we hurt another person.

But the way she frames choosing to forgive is so amazing to me. She doesn't really say anything new. Anyone who preaches the value of forgiveness will talk about how you do it for yourself and not the other person. How it's about releasing the hold, and all of that. But she talks about it in terms of the expectations. How holding a grudge only causes you to expect something you will never receive. Failing to forgive only hurts you in the long run.

When I think about some recent events in my life and ponder whether or not I've truly forgiven people (while choosing not to forget, because I don't want to end up in that situation again) I think I'll consider whether or not I'm expecting anything. You've forgiven when you're done expecting the other person to repay any debts. Deep.