I had to work at Dally in the Alley as a Beer Girl this year. Every year, this very cool/artsy/hippie festival takes over the streets of the Cass Corridor in Detroit and I provide happiness to cats in the form of ice cold beer and a warm smile. For the last two years, a sister who has made it publicly known to the mutual friends that we share that she hates me (we'll call her Sandy), has stopped by my booth with a shared sista-friend. Last year, Sandy and I barely made eye contact. I shared a small joke with our shared sista-friend, handed off a beer and forgot the incident.
Months later, me and the shared sista-friend (we'll call her Goddess) were sharing dinner and drinks at my place in Ann Arbor and just catching up on old times when a small commentary about how Sandy really held her down during a time of bereavement surfaced. Naturally, I grimaced at the mention of Sandy's name. There's a lie that Sandy put out there that goes along the lines of whipping my ass so badly in a night club that it caused me to relocate to Cleveland.
The true story is that we were both getting played by the same dude who knocked her up with a child that she lost while he was squatting rent free in my shared home with my girl Tumika. I saw Sandy in the club and instantly recognized her. The douche bag we were both loving told me that their relationship was over and that she'd lost the baby but that they were still cool. That's it. That's all. Sympathetic, after having had an abortion that I regretted, I approached Sandy (who knew very little about me except the few exchanges we had in the arts community we were both heavily a part of) and told her I was sorry for her loss. She thanked me. I left and continued dancing with my girl. Shortly thereafter, Sandy re-approached me with expletives on how she knew who I was and why would I deal with her man when I knew she was pregnant, blah, blah blah. She also threatened to beat the shit of me after the night was over. Angry and afraid, I let her know that the douche bag we both loved told me that they were no longer an item. Douche bag was in the club that night. We both approached him, and in true nigga fashion, he played us both, watched us both verbally attack each other, and watched us both - leaders in our community - embarrass ourselves over a brotha that, at the time, cared more about his next meal than about our hurt feelings. Sandy issued one more threat to me and stormed out of the club. I walked over to the girlfriend that joined me for the night and gave her a recap of the evening - including the fact that I was due for an undeserved ass whipping once we left. My girl thought it best that we approached security about the situation and get an escort to our car. Embarrassed and afraid, I recapped everything to a guard who laughed about the entire situation, but thought it best to walk us to our car.
End of Story.
No ass whippings.
No flights out in the middle of the night.
Just the acknowledgement that someone I shared my home, my sex and my soul with was a lying jackass who was perpetrating depth when he was just a manatee.
Sometime later, I spotted Sandy in a poetry cafe and felt that nervousness stir up in me again. Instead of fleeing in fear, I took the stage and free styled a poem to her apologizing for my ignorance to douche bag's betrayal to us both and hoping that we could at least remember that we were sisters in a shared arts community. To my surprise, Sandy accepted the apology. I even got her number and had a chance to speak to her on one or two occasions. Genuinely thinking all was well, I went on with the rest of my life only to find out that rumors of me being lesbian, rumors of me getting my ass beat to a pulp were still coming out of her mouth. Goddess, confirmed that these rumors were still in effect.
...That we have to make up our lives by pretending to be bad ass when in fact, we got hurt, betrayed and played by people we took a risk to trust?
Why do women insist on "saving face" by degrading another sister? Why do black women attempt to show their strength by punishing other sisters?
Why am I recapping this horrible moment?
Because, sometimes you DON'T want to be the bigger person.
Sometimes, I don't want to be the bigger person is probably the better statement.
I saw Sandy again at this year's street fair. She and Goddess were hanging at the festival in their usual fashion. Goddess came up, gave me a hug and I gave her the traditional beer but this time, I didn't want to ignore that Sandy was there too (feigning interest in a cute puppy so that her lie of whipping my ass stayed in tact) so I offered her a beer. She paused, perhaps stunned that I'd broken the ice, and accepted the beer. She even threw in a few witty comments about how Goddess was a wonderful mentor, et cetera. I engaged in the exchange genuinely, but was still angry that I'd initiated it with someone who professes such a strong hatred for me. When it was all said and done, Goddess hugged me and told me that she was proud to see me be a bigger person - and while her pride in me only strengthen the abiding love I feel for her, it stung just a little. Why can't Sandy and I just say, "We're too old to be beefing about #1 a nigga that didn't want us both, and #2 over a lie I know you told because you got dissed by the same nigga I got dissed by"?
Maybe wearing your ass on your shoulder shows your infallible strength. I'm still, however, learning to tap into my divinity so the fallible me is still here most days. There is a passage in the KJV of the Bible in the book of Matthew that has been stinging me for a minute. Chapter 5: 43-48
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
I don't want to be a bigger person. Most times, I'd like to be the bigger bitch. But what would that avail?
Today, I release myself from other people's mania with complete and total trust that in the same way I found healing they can too. I acknowledge that a woman's choices ultimately shape the direction of her life. I commit to making good choices and to being a bigger person, even when my emotions want to spiral out of control on the inside AND on some one's face with my fists.