About a week ago I took my daughter to Walmart before school to grab a few of her teacher’s favorite snacks in celebration of Teachers Appreciation Week. We browsed the isles for grape soda and snickers bars and ran smack into the Lunchables that BK asks for at least three times every week and never gets (hey, I didn’t pay for a years worth of school lunch for her not to eat it there *folds arms*). I decided to be a cool mom that day and got her one along with what we came for. She, like me, gets ecstatic over even the smallest things so we both were smiling ear to ear. When we got in the car, however, that smile faded. BK made a quick remark to herself halfway under her breath, “Uh oh, I gotta figure out if I’m going to share my cookie or my juice now…”, to which I replied in true black mother fashion, “You don’t have to figure out anything, I bought that for you and nobody else. Don’t you give anybody what is meant for you, do you understand me?” She looked me in my eyes and said “Yes, ma’am”, but I could tell something was really bothering her so I asked what it was. “Well, whenever I have snacks or something cool, Briana, Elijah, and Tamyron want it so I share”. I started getting upset at the thought that my kid’s classmates were taking advantage of her whether she chose to share or not. Trying to stay calm, I said, “Not today you won’t. This is yours, you are not obligated; do you know what “obligated” means? (she nodded her head, yes), to share with any of them. If they ask you for some, you tell them “no” and don’t feel bad about it”. Thinking I had solved the issue, we drove off and in silence for a few minutes. “Mom?” (this was a rare occasion where she called me that so I knew it was serious) “What’s up?”, I turned and glanced at her once we hit the red stop light. “What if they don’t want to be my friend?” And thats when my heart dropped.
I’ve always been classified as a loner by default. I spent the majority of my life wanting friends and I grew up with a lot of factors that contributed to that want but I found myself mostly alone. I was a military brat with older siblings (10 and 16 years older, respectively), older parents (my mother had me at 39), and I was born with some incessant need to make everyone happy…even if I wasn’t. I guess in my heart I feel like I should project the love I wish I had to others. I’ve always wanted people to know what it felt like..I always wanted to know myself. My mom has told me that I’ve been like that since I was a baby. “You’ve always gone for the underdog. Always trying to give all you got, including yourself to people that don’t deserve it”. I remember so many years of me sacrificing my snacks and toys, and talents and time to others who were only satisfied when they could get what they want, when they wanted it, and not really interested in being my friend or getting to know me in return. The sad part is, I still struggle with discernment involving people I want to help or have some type of relationship with because of the decades I’ve allowed myself to be used and abused, thinking that if I just tried a little harder, someone would see me for me and think that I was worth being there for, working with, or even loving. I don’t consider myself a naive or gullible person but I’ve always seemed to have an issue accepting that very few people care about me the way that I care about them…and even fewer will show it.
The fact that I have an almost 8 year old daughter shocks me everyday. By all rights and purposes, I wasn’t thinking about having a kid at any point before my “selfish” years were null and void (my “selfish” years being any point before 40…maybe). Hell, even admitting to myself that I was once married makes me draw blanks because I’ve thrown it so far out of my head that it only becomes a valid part of my history when I see the divorce papers or the occasional and far and in between appearance of BK’s father. Getting married and having BK was honestly a byproduct of that “try a little harder and maybe they will see” mentality, only this time, the majority of what I was trying to prove was to myself. Yes, I became a statistic, and yes, I hate it. I failed. I married a man and ended up with a child because of low self-esteem. Because of depression. Because I was tired of no one else caring. Because I was afraid and just fed up with always being bypassed when I showed my worth, and alone…and even though so much shit was messed up with him in my life, he was a better alternative than the nothing I felt would be my fate after my near fatal car accident. Sounds fucked up? It was. That’s not to say we didn’t have some good times and I’m not saying he’s a horrible man, he just wasn’t ever for me and we both knew it and we both used each other in that regard. I cared about him more than he cared about himself and me, but it was hard to let go when I thought we had a foundation as friends. I thought that meant he wouldn’t hurt me, that I at least meant enough to be treated a certain way, but I wasn’t. In reality, I had spent the entire relationship building him up, paying for everything, moving him in with me, fighting my family over him, sacrificing myself in every way, only to be elated that he showed me mere affection for it, something I really never got before him. Surprise, readers! I’m a little messed up. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been shown and felt true affection consistently in my life…
and to this day I long for it…but enough about that for now. Am I bitter? Not at all. Hurt I gave away 8 years of my life and drained myself to be cheated on, lied to, used, verbally abused, etc.? Yes. And that is only one story from my life. I guess thats why now I’ve prayed so hard to only have people in my life who will stand the test of time…and actually reciprocate to me a similar intent of the way I treat them. I just know better than to hold my breath for it.
“What if they don’t want to be my friend?”
Those words echoed in my ears. “Do you think they won’t?” I thought about my friendships through the years. Not many stood the test of time. I can’t even say that they were supposed to, or even that they were real friendships, but the memories of what I put myself through just to manifest the majority of them made me feel so weak and desperate in that moment. Maybe I am gullible. “That’s what they tell me when I don’t share”. I thought about my past relationships. I wondered why it always seemed like I wasn’t good enough. Why I put up with being treated less than how I knew I should. I thought about never wanting my daughter to feel that same way…I thought about my mother, not wanting that for me either and still watching me suffer through it. “Then they don’t deserve to be your friend, Brooklyn. They don’t deserve you, baby”. My voice was shaking when I told her that and she didn’t know why. She just looked at me with concern and said, “Okay”, gave me a hug, kissed me on the cheek and got out of the car when we pulled up to the curb of the school. She’s a lot stronger than I am, I think. I pray. See, this isn’t just about a little girl and a snack. My daughter is a loner by default. She was born with some incessant need to make everyone happy…even if she isn’t. As soon as she closed the door I started crying uncontrollably.
‘They don’t deserve you, baby”
All these years I’d beaten myself up looking for answers why things didn’t work out for me, why people left me, why I was treated less than sometimes, and I didn’t see or understand it until then.