I know this is a little late, but I was super busy on Mother's Day celebrating the best mom ever (and I've been busy since then too), so I beg your pardon and hope it'll earn me some slack!
This entire post is going to be a giant wall of text. Sometimes things happen and because it's my blog I want to write about it and process it all as I go, and my poor readers (you) end up with a long-winded intricate story with multiple pieces involved. I know there are two types of readers: Those who will give up at the end of this paragraph, and those who make it through the posts, struggling valiantly until the end to better understand one more person on this planet and how one person's experience can help us reflect on our own lives.
I'll let you decide right now which person you're going to be today - and I don't blame you either way!
In what turned out to be a fortuitous timeline of events, I ended up needing some motherly advice and affection right in time for Mother's Day, and thought I'd share it here, since it's kind of a continuation of some other events and feels that I've blogged about in the past, and because my mom was happy she got the opportunity on Mother's Day.
I also want to share it because it fits in with my triathlon journey...with my race journey. With my drive to continuously challenge myself. Things I do because my mom always told me I could do anything if I put in the effort.
I'll start by saying that, just as I have a blog to write in, I also read lots of other blogs for various reasons. Two of those things are Running and Triathlon - I know, you're shocked.
I read a lot of blogs written by people I don't know and will probably never meet, a few written by people I consider "internet acquaintances" and sincerely hope to meet, and another small group written by people I know in real life (ranging from "Best Buds" to "We went to high school together"). The particular blog post that caused this dilemma was written by one of those high school people.
I feel like it's obvious why I wouldn't post a link, but if it's not, I really bear no ill will towards the writer. She's accomplished some great things with running and triathlon, her blog is fairly upbeat, and that's what I subscribed and was reading it. I don't want people think I'm hating on her or that I'm jealous - how can I be jealous of what someone else has done when I've got my own path to walk?
I will say, the one time I reached out to her for some tri-centric advice, I wished I hadn't. It wasn't that her advice was bad, per-se...it was that she was totally un-encouraging, which I've never encountered with any triathlete ever before. Everyone is always encouraging and helpful. However, she basically let me know that my "A" race for the season - the international/Olympic distance for the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon was too lofty and ambitious. That I'd be scared by the crowds and transitions, that I should start smaller first...those kinds of things. Honestly...it seemed weird that she would not encourage someone to do what other people once encouraged her to do.
After that, I decided to never ask her for advice again. I can figure this tri thing out without her, that's for sure.
Anyways...to get to the point, I unsubscribed from her blog the other day. I've mentioned before that I was kicked out of a wedding party a few years ago because..well, go read the post if you need to know.
The tie-in here is that the aforementioned blogger was also in that wedding party. I need to throw in some additional story here, but I promise I'll get to my point, and back to what this has to do with this other girl's blog.
Since I "broke up" with my friend over two years ago, I've pieced together this weird little puzzle and realized she was actually lying to me a lot, mostly when I was trying to spend time with her. I would try to call her and hang out with her and her (then) fiance, and she would always tell me they were "staying in to save money for the wedding".
Like a sucker, I bought that line every time.
It turns out she was, at least sometimes, going out with her 'other' friends. People I did actually know and got along with (they just weren't in my immediate circle of friends). Call me unreasonable...but if you knew your "best" friend was going to be alone on a Friday or Saturday night and if they called you to hang out...wouldn't you invite them along? If your plans were just to hit a few bars with people, why would you leave them hanging like that?
In the past I've wondered if she thought I wouldn't fit with them, or if it boiled down to her just not wanting me there...and the truth is I will never know. Which sucks.
About a year ago I realized all of that was happening towards the end of our friendship, and it hurt. Like...that's a really, really sucky realization, even after the friendship was long dead. That my "best friend" kept me out of the loop for years before the friendship ended...I wish I could have seen that writing on the wall. She was keeping me at arms length, and roped me back in with the whole bridesmaid thing, and because I was a loyal friend I went trotting back to her.
It happens that one of the other friends my ex-best was hanging out with was this other bridesmaid/blogger. Honestly, at the time (and still now) I'm a bit confused by their friendship. I'm not saying this to be petty or judgmental, but I was so surprised when I found out this girl was also going to be a bridesmaid. I didn't realize they were that good of friends (but clearly now I know I was missing out on all the nights at the bar that established this friendship). I know, it sounds catty...but I don't know how else to say it. I was even more shocked, because my friend didn't invite her cousin (who she always said was like her sister) to be in the wedding, and I'm friends with her cousin, so I was a bit pissed off about that too. I fully admit I never did (and still don't) understand any of those decisions.
I'm including all of this so when I say what I'm about to you understand my frame of reference, and why I was so hurt by what I read over the weekend.
Because on Saturday I was sitting there, getting caught up on blogs, and this girl's blog comes up on my feed about how she won a free entry into an Ironman, which is a pretty big deal. Ironman (and everything that comes with it) is expensive and time consuming. Winning a free entry is incredible, and I was genuinely glad that she was going to have the experience to race the National Championship at IMTX (Ironman Texas).
Until I kept reading. Because it felt like someone stabbed me in the gut and twisted the knife when I read a sentence that went something like, "...and two of the best friends I could ever ask for X and X [my ex best friend and her husband] bought their plane tickets to come watch me race!"
It hit me so hard right then: My ex-best friend replaced me with someone else. Just like that.
Do you know what my first thought was after that? What I asked my mom when I got home the next day?
What the fuck did I ever do to this girl that, 20 years into our friendship, she couldn't even ask me how I was doing after I had surgery, but she's willing to fly to Texas for someone she's only been friends with for four years?
And because my mom is my mom, and because she is amazing and awesome, we talked it out.
I'm sure you want to know what she told me:
You did not do anything wrong - there was always something about you she could not get past.
She explained to me some details from the past that I never even knew about. She made her observations about how when we were little and would fight, the things this other girl would be mad about. How as we got older, my mom pointed out that this girl always chose other friends over me.
And it all clicked. My mom was so right. It was never something I did, it was a problem with who I am. That in some ways, I'm unbending. I am upfront and honest, I do not placate people to make them feel better about themselves, or congratulate mediocrity. (That's not to say I don't celebrate accomplishments or encourage development. I totally do.)
And, perhaps most importantly, I don't claw other people's eyes out for one person's attention. I do not believe in walking all over other people to get where I want to be, or to build relationships with "important" people. No one is ever so important that someone else needs to be shoved out of the way for them.
But this "best friend" always set me aside when another girl was willing to "do more" (or shove me aside for attention).
Bridesmaids dress shopping was a great example.
We went to a big-box store, I tried on a few and wrote down the styles and sizes (we didn't all have to have the same dress). I told my friend I was going to check some smaller boutiques, but that I would order a dress by the following Saturday (six days later). I found a better fitting, better quality dress for a better price, ordered it, and had it delivered and altered before anyone else even got their dress.
Apparently this made me "difficult".
Some of the other bridesmaids though? They were falling over themselves to pay first at the big-box store, when it was 100% obvious that the quality and customer service was pretty crap, and that the attendants didn't know what the hell they were doing. I honestly wondered why they were so eager to drop 200+ non-refundable dollars at what felt like a scam-house.
The point is...I wasn't willing to be that person. I wasn't willing to go into debt to prove my friendship, and I was not going to make my mom pay for me to be in this wedding (which I think my friend expected me to do), because my mom was already paying for my surgery.
And that was the rub. That was the "problem". That even after 20 years of friendship and some good times, I wasn't willing to do absolutely anything. That I wasn't willing to bow to some unreasonable expectation for a friendship.
That I wasn't willing to let myself be walked all over to hold on to someone who kicked me to the curb time and time again for 20 years.
And all it took was my mom pointing it out.
My mom's advice is what helped me see through 20 years of abusive "friendship".
And that's what mom's do.
They wait until they know you're ready, until they know you can handle what they're about to say, and then the let you in on the piece of information you've been missing your whole life, because you're finally ready to hear it.
And then things make sense, and you're ready to pick yourself up, try again, and be better at it.
I know I just posted this, but I really, really love this picture. So thank you Mom, for all you do and have ever done for me. You are the one person I know who has always been my example and my hero, who will always be there for me, love me, encourage me, and pick me up when the world is trying to tear me down.
Happy Mother's Day.