“If you’re fighting with someone you really love, find your way back to them because life is short, even on its longest days” – Oprah
I recently discovered a dear friend of mine, someone I have known for nearly 30 years, blocked me on Facebook. This was a person I grew up with, spent many formidable years with, and considered her more like a sister than a friend. She was my maid of honor, knew all of my best and worst secrets and I in turn knew hers. We talked to one another nearly every day, I was there when her daughter was born, and she was there during my darkest hours. Although it’s been nearly a decade ago, I am eternally grateful that she and my mother were there to save my life.
In recent years, however, our relationship strained under the pressure of opposing political views. We’d had some bumps in the road before, as many long-standing relationships often do – we’d grow tired and weary of the other person’s bullshit – but we’d quickly find our way back to one another. While some friendships can weather the storm, and ours had been through a few, most have never encountered a Category 8 shit-storm like the one our world is currently in the midst of today. Suddenly, without a word, she wiped what was left of our memories of one another off the map.
It occurred to me while I was cooking dinner a nights ago, that maybe she felt as though she didn’t have a voice, that I hadn’t given her space to express her thoughts/beliefs. About a year ago, her mother had posted some vile comment on one of my posts, in which I was mocking the absurdity of journalists reporting on the “scandalous” fashion choice Obama made when he conducted a press briefing in a tan suit. I told her in so many words how wholly unnecessary it was to make nasty comments on my page when she could just unfollow me and move about her day instead (she chose to unfriend me). I do have a way of aggressively getting my point across, and none of us have time/space for biased, fear-based, reactionary bullshit (or name calling, which is what her mother had resorted to).
While I know that my friend and I did not vote for the same team in 2016, and it’s likely we never voted for the same team throughout our friendship, I naively thought that our political beliefs would not be the demise of our accord. Yet, the current administration is responsible for creating irreconcilable differences between family members, friends, loved ones, partners, races, religions, businesses, and countries. So, why would I believe our friendship be any different? Nor should it come as a surprise that the more vocal I have become about the indignities that minority populations have endured, the farther she retreated from me.
Although white, her family has no doubt experienced their own challenges as farmers/ranchers in the Midwest. They struggle to make ends meet every day, and are one health care crisis away from complete financial obliteration. They’ve suffered through addictions, suicides, cancers, and gross mistrust of the government and Californians. They haven’t received a bailout, so ‘why should anyone else’? Yet, they help their neighbors, love their kids, and try to do right by their spouses. Like many others in their situation, they STILL continue to vote against their own economic interests: every. single. time.
For the most part, I have accepted her decision to walk away. She tends to avoid conflict, while I often walk into the burning building. Grief comes in waves, though, and this morning I woke up angry….angry that she didn’t give our friendship more credit, angry that she stole my heart, angry that I didn’t do more to stay in contact. She needed space, she had said she was working through her own stuff, but maybe I gave her too much, and it was too easy to let go? Or maybe it was just time for the era to come to an end?
The anger doesn’t last, as sadness returns, along with bouts of utter disappointment. Although I know that I could text her, or call, to let her know that the door remains open, should she ever want to talk things through, I am not sure I’m ready to hear what she has to say. I’m not ready to listen to all of the bigotry or bias, yet I’m afraid the longer she stays in Kansas, the farther down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories her family will take her. I hope that she will find her way back one day, I hope that she will let reason back into her life, and I hope that she will raise her daughter to love all people, not just the ones that think/look like she does.
Grief, in this moment, shifts to acceptance of her decision, as the tides of change drift back to the larger task at hand….the shit-storm. We are in an epic struggle to save humanity from ourselves, and my energy must be rededicated to fighting the fires that her so-called leader continues to set…white America gave a toddler a box of matches and some gasoline to occupy his time because we were too busy posting selfies, flaunting wealth we stole from Black Americans and Indigenous People.
I want the US to share that wealth equally, and I know it’s part of the reason she buried the axe in the middle of this friendship, but in the longest of days I truly believe it can only be altruism that not only saves this country. Is it naive of me to hope that one day she will see it is that very altruism that has/will continue to save her family’s farm, and not the silver they’re buried beneath it? If we are to ever find our way back, may we all leave the door open in the hopes that one day our friends will return to us from the brink of indoctrination into authoritarianism. For if they do, their psyches will be wounded and scarred, and it will take all of our love to heal them.