Quite by accident I stumbled across her secret. I sure wasn’t looking for it, and definitely wasn’t expecting it. I really liked her. The only reason I discovered it was because she had sweetly offered to help me with the beautiful foster children I love. Her warmth turned cold when I handed her the standard background check paperwork from the caseworker. Papers that had never meant anything but safety to me opened a gaping wound in her, and shut the door between us.
It didn’t matter to me. It mattered to her.
It didn’t matter to her that it didn’t matter to me. I saw it as her story. She saw it as her shame. Our greatest strengths often come from the pages of the darkest parts of our story. But she was hiding, and I found her before she was ready. I would never tell. That didn’t matter. In her mind, I wasn’t safe. Suddenly, I wasn’t safe from her. She found a way to use her power and influence to wage war against me. It began on social media with a large audience and moved into real life. Long story short, even mediators were unequipped to handle the twisted words, confusing motives, and broken trust. I had been sure we could work through our “misunderstanding”, but I was never able to resolve with her. Her ultimatum threatened to upend our world, but it failed to materialize. She didn’t get her way, and she went away. The wreckage of the aftermath unearthed even uglier truths about people and establishment we had entrusted ourselves to for almost a decade, split a large portion of our community, and quite honestly, left me angry and jaded.
It isn’t what it isn’t.
The games were over. Lines drawn deeply in the sand. Even though it hurt, it felt good to know what was. It was good to stop pretending about what wasn’t. It was time to let go. There was a grief where the dust settled, also a deep breath of relief. The whisper spoke to our hard hearts. “Go let go.” We told no one. We sold everything. We rented. We knew it was time to eat standing up. It was time to go. We didn’t know where. We didn’t know when. We knew why.
She showed me who I was.
I could see her. She was calculating, manipulative, devious. She kept herself positioned to teach, but not to learn. She projected carefree, friendly, and genuine over the top of her anxious necessity to be strategic, deliberate, and always a step ahead. I hated what I saw. It mirrored the things I hadn’t been ready to see in me. We were both hiding. Lonely. Terrified. Insecure. My breath caught hard the day that whisper made it clear to me that I was the same person I hated. What have I built to keep people from the truth? Who will I destroy to protect myself? What is that thing I can’t surrender…that thing I will grasp in my hand as life crumbles around me? I’m still asking. The asking and sharing is messy. It is slowly bringing healing, connections, and hope.
I’m so thankful for her.
I promised myself I wouldn’t write about her until I was. I’m healing because she hurt me. It was time to go, and she showed me.
(All of these thoughts are my own process. My own interpretation of the life I’ve experienced. There are many perspectives on each story. I’m just working through mine.)