And today I missed you.

Your faces, voices, hands and gestures.

I miss you everyday but today everything I do seems to remind me that I am living without you. It's a feeling I cannot quite put a finger on, part nostalgia and part wistfulness.

I moved a whole continent away and life came at me fast. Far from home, lost,  lonely,  scared, worried and abandoned I turned to work, commitment, motherhood... new beginnings. A whole new me. Oh how I missed you. Each night I went to bed with a prayer that if tomorrow brought hope, I hoped it brought me you.

We had some wild nights, some cold ones too, many drunken ones, ones where we gossiped a lot, days we hated the world and those we thought we owned it. We had a drama filled friendship. It was a sight to behold.

But lately I think too much and dance too little. I mourn the distance between us.

The art and craft of finding friends that mirror your soul is so intricate that no one ever hits that jackpot more than twice. With us, it was love at first conversation. I knew we were going be friends from the very first words we said to each other.

One of the hardest pills I ever I had to swallow was coming to the realization that you are far away and I am without you.

I did make some new friends and I will be the first to admit that they are amazing people but they don't get me sometimes. It's hard sometimes to explain everything I am going through because if you didn't know me from before, you would not understand it. I am afraid to share my insecurities with them sometimes because I am afraid that to them it might sound silly, I never feared that with you.

Sometimes I wonder if our bond will survive the distance and new responsibilities. The long silences, will they win against our love? Are we losing each other because we are waiting for the other to show that they they still care?

I have missed more calls than I can count because the time zones don't do us any favors. My good afternoon texts mean it's already midnight for you. And when you finally call back, work has me tied up or the twins need my attention. Also for the first time in my life I find myself in a relationship which demands more of me than I ever allowed. For once, I understand the sacrifices you made for me.

I was so needy and demanding of you even when you had  a love life. I needed you, I wanted your attention, I was always the damsel in distress. Somehow, your hearts always had room for me. No Prince ever came to my rescue, it was always you my very own warrior princesses that saved me.

You always came through and slayed my dragons for me, I had many of those. Self-doubt, bad hair days, exes, loneliness, betrayal, hunger, neediness or just plain old boredom and needing a girls' night to gossip and start some trouble. On your horses ( mostly Uber and commercial motorcycles aka boda-bodas ) you heroically rode to me and conquered my demons.

So if I have not said it before I will say it now, thank you for lending me your kindness on those days when I was so unkind to myself.

No phone call or text can ever put into words your real life reactions to situations. Your gestures, I still visualize them. Your laughter and looks from across the room when I understood what you meant without a word. These memories stay with me. My heart, it pines for you.

I long for the familiar faces. The familiar accents. The familiar hugs. The familiar smiles. The familiar bar couches we jumped on. The familiar long nights that we snuck alcohol into bars. I even long for the familiar fights.

It was never meant to happen this way, with me so far away and you all the way over there.

Can someone please tell my eyes to stop watering, they are wetting my keyboard?

But whether it's five years or forever, I will hold onto our friendship. We had so much to live for and we still do. We love each other so dearly that even with life getting in the way right now, we know we still have more chapters to write together.

Yes, I had to grow up. Yes, I love my new life. But growing up broke a piece of my heart away.

With that said I will close my eyes as I do everyday, so I can I can hear your voices. It is all I have left, and for now it will do.

Opposite-Sex Best Friends & Relationships 

Happy new year & I hope it’s going great for you. Mine is awesome. I haven’t posted in a while so I wanted to get back into the fray with something so conspicuous & contradictory but instead found myself penning something more (if I’m not kidding myself) relatable. That one opposite sex best friend of your mate & their constant interference in your relationship. I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about.

Now we all love our best friends. They play a very vital role in our lives to boost our sense of belonging & purpose, to improve our self worth, to support & comfort us during tough times, to make us laugh, take us dancing, share experiences & understand us on a deeper level that not even our families can sometimes. But we all know where to draw the line. So what happens when the person sleeping next to you does not have a line? When they act unfiltered around their best friend on the regular? When they are so shortsighted so as to toy in the riskiest of manners with a very close opposite sex friend? Ever heard of stories that sound like this:

My husband is always texting his female co-worker & when I insist that it’s too often, he claims it’s just work & I should stop being jealous & paranoid. But he’s always smiling when he’s texting her.”

“My wife is usually on the phone with her old friend from school & she tells  me they are just friends but she acts very personal on the phone with him.”

There is one thing that’s for certain between both scenarios. The mate  with the opposite sex friendship is very much aware of their actions & how their partner feels about the situation but chooses to disregard their partner’s feelings in favour of the thrill or ego boost that the friendship gives to them.

I’m of the view that people of different genders can be best friends & stand fully in support of such friendships but I believe when either or both of these people have romantic partners in their lives, the friendship needs to be checked to make certain that it’s not breaching the boundaries of the relationship. A lot of times people expect to behave the same way that they did with their friends when they were single & assume that their mates should adjust to this way of life instead of them adjusting their friendship to balance out both equations. That my friends, is a very common but wrong analogy.

Raise your hand if your partner has a close friend of a different gender & please allow me to ask you a few questions.

Does it bother you that they talk more than four times a day? That the first call in the morning & last one in the night is from him/her? Do you find their closeness suspect? Does he/she sashay through the door & moves all over the house like they live there? Does she (in case it’s a female) send inappropriate pictures to your partner in the guise that she’s breast-feeding & oops she can’t help but have her naked bossom in the picture or maybe to ask your mate what he thinks of her outfit? That he/she assumes that just because they are best friends, he/she automatically knows your partner better than you hence your opinion matters little?  That he/she has the audacity to inject themselves in things that are none of their business? That he/she buys them intimate clothing? That he/she enters sacred parts of the house like the bedroom without ceremony? That they share too many private jokes? That even things which are yours to know first i.e. your partner’s victories, future plans, potential health risks are first passed by them for approval before you get to know? That your mate blatantly encourages infractions by them against you yet chastises your retaliatory efforts?  That you are expected to tolerate such behaviour from the both of them but if you did something similar you are immediately considered the Antichrist? Are you comfortable with their regular basis meetings to discuss what’s going on in their lives including yourself? That they both overstep the liberty you leave them to enjoy by taking for granted that you will always put up with their behaviour?

If it bothers you, then you’re not alone in this. There are plenty of people feeling the same way you do, afraid to voice it lest they be accused of envy or insecurity. Honestly!  You’re not weak or insecure. You are cautious & intuitive. Don’t allow them to call you otherwise.

So what are the signs to indicate that an opposite sex best friend relationship is a breach on the territory of your romantic relationship?

There are many red flags to indicate lack of boundaries & the easiest to spot is when an opposite sex best friend meets the very many emotional needs of your partner. When this happens, its highly likely that it will encroach onto the territory of your romantic love life. If your mate’s best friend meets their most important emotional needs of affection (expresses concern over every little thing, cares about every miniature detail of their lives), intimacy( lends an ear to incessant conversations about personal problems, romantic problems & socio-economic problems every other day), companionship (spending time together, having hobbies & peers in common), honesty & openness (revealing personal feelings like past history, current situation & future plans), physical  attractiveness or admiration (expressions of respect, value & appreciation); then I suggest you drop everything you’re doing right now, have some quiet time & think long & hard. This is especially important if the friend does a better job in any of these areas than the mate.

Sex was not included. Noticed that, did you? This is because your mate is very much aware that something of that calibre is off limits. That’s why they feel comfortable enough to hurl in your face vehement denials of them never having been physically intimate whenever you pick up the guts to voice your disapproval. They feel safe in their security blanket of never having crossed that line & God forbid you bring it up again because you get labelled insecure or crazy & paranoid. But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security for it is these apparently innocuous non-sexual relationships that often slip under the radar unnoticed which turn into full blown emotional or physical affairs.

It is a well known fact that many opposite sex relationships involve people that if circumstances were different, would be potential sexual partners. Indeed many opposite gender friendships are maintained because of a simmering attraction. One or both of these people are keeping their ‘friend’ on the back burner in the event that their current relationship falls apart. This is especially true of men. Men more often than not befriend women whom they have some sort of physical attraction to.

The nature of such friendships is that they are private, personal & bilateral. They are private in such a way that they are very one on one & information often kept secret between the two parties. Matter of fact when you’re within hearing distance then it’s whispered or they remove themselves from your vicinity. They are personal in the sense that personal information is revealed especially problems faced accompanied by a willingness to help when needed. And they are bilateral in such a manner that both parties actively participate in this gross over-sharing & prove that they both have what it takes to help support each other whether emotionally, financially, morally or however.

It goes without saying that if one mate in the relationship has such an intimate relationship with their opposite sex best friend, the other mate will undoubtedly feel uneasy to put it lightly.  The respectful course of action if you have any regard for your partner would be to modify the friendship or end it altogether, depending on what the two partners agree upon. Any opposite sex friendship especially one so intimate as a best friend should be carefully evaluated because of the risks involved. A close connection with someone who meets so many emotional needs is dangerous. Do not take unnecessary chances with your relationship.

Meryl Streep very recently said, “Disrespect invites disrespect.”

Wise words.Being overly critical of your partner to your best friend denies your romantic love life the respect it needs by giving power to your other relationship. Your friend will likely take it as an invitation to play a more significant role in your life eg. that of an attack dog. That it’s okay for them treat & speak to your mate in any careless manner because you have invited them to with your blatant disrespect for familiarity, breeds contempt.  A relationship is between you & the person you are with therefore the best person to talk to about the problems in your relationship is the person you are in a relationship with. Stop letting outsiders plant their opinion in something that they are not involved in.

Relationships typically go through up’s & down’s. When you’re going through an up, things are going great & the opposite gender friendship may be harmless at such a time even though it may still be an irritation to the other mate. It’s however a whole other story when you’re going through rough patch. It can be a conflict, sexual dry spell, jadedness or just old fashioned boredom. When this happens, most of us turn to the liquor, exercise, television, work or our best friend for a shoulder to cry on. So picture it if they are opposite sex persons. Before you know it you’re both comforting each other, asking each other what to do, sharing intimate details of your relationship & communicating more frequently & intimately. As this happens, the dynamics in your romantic relationship suffer even more. And why not? Three is a crowd after all.

The mate with the opposite sex close friend will start to leave the room to communicate with their friend, meet them clandestinely while leaving their partner in a state of anger, anxiety & hurt. When asked if they think what they are doing is right, they become outright indignant, belligerent & will try to flip the situation around so that the hurt party must go on the defensive trying to desperately explain- to no avail- why the friendship is being conducted wrongly & how it’s affecting the relationship. Often, the explanation falls flat & all that is left is for them to be accused of jealousy & paranoia ignoring the fact that such a friendship in & of itself is a betrayal because when you commit to an exclusive relationship, your partner expects you to make them your lover, closest intimate confidante & priority.

If you have an opposite sex best friend & are unsure whether you have breached the boundary, I’ll make it easy for you with a pop quiz.

  • Is your partner unaware of your friendship?
  • Is he/she disapproving of how it’s conducted?
  • Would you let him/her sit in on one of your uncensored intimate conversations?
  • Do you delete some of the conversations you have with your friend to conceal them from your partner?
  • Would you be uncomfortable if your partner had the same relationship with someone of the opposite sex?
  • Are you physically & (or) emotionally attracted to your friend?
  • Have you ever compared your mate to your friend?
  • Have you ever fantasized about your friend?
  • Do you & your friend share highly personal details about your lives or complain about your relationships to each other?
  • Do you feel compelled to hide or shade over the truth eg.”I had lunch with some friends.” When in fact you had lunch with that one person.

If any or more of your answers was”Yes,” then your friendship could be a real threat to your relationship & it might be in the interest of your love life to re-evaluate it. Not all close opposite sex friendships are dangerous but it’s in your favour to err on the side of caution. It’s advisable to confer with your partner about the nature of your opposite sex friendship often in order to avoid misunderstandings because a totally innocent friendship, if not kept in check, can cause irreparable damage to a relationship.

Spending time with friends is one thing but if there are elements of that friendship that threaten your relationship, then something is wrong.

Ensure that your partner is 100% on board with your close interaction with your friend & is completely comfortable with it. Do not share with another person what you haven’t yet shared to your mate. Honour your partner’s wishes by drawing boundaries. Keep in mind that if you have to hide it, whisper it or delete it, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Address unresolved issues in your relationship in a timely, calm, open manner & avoid complaining to your friends about your partner. Never ever make your mate feel inadequate because you are telling them without words, that they’ll never be enough. Protect your relationship in the long term.

And for you out there being called insecure when in actual sense you are not, trust your instincts. Intuition is not insecurity & it rarely lies. It takes a strong person to stick by their values so do not compromise yourself just to help someone step all over you. Stand by the vision you have of your relationship & remember that he/she has to choose you over compromise, over excuses, over busy, over temptation, over hesitation, over waiting, over indecision & over friendship. He/she must choose you over & over again.

Old Habits Die Hard

 I was talking to one of my best friends the other day and we were gossiping about everything (translation: our other friends who weren’t there) and  nothing (Kim K & Taylor Swift’s Famousgate) when she just randomly, in the middle of the conversation, drops the bombshell to end all bombshells.

“I am taking Luther back.”

“Which Luther?”

“Luther Luther.”

“Sheila no, you cannot be serious! Why?”

“I have my reasons.”

I looked at this beautiful intelligent woman and mentally shook my head. Taking back a man that had not only cheated on her multiple times but publicly humiliated her as well as emotionally & psychologically abused her! Yeah, that made sense. I didn’t even know they were on speaking terms again! You think you know someone. Oh well.

The heart is a fickle thing.  Selena Gomez did say it wants what it wants & she would know, wouldn’t she? She took Justin Bieber back many more times than Michael Jackson had plastic surgery.

Therein lies the age old question though.

Why is it so easy to fall back into old habits? Why do we do this dance ad nauseum? Even when we know it’s not good for anybody: not for you, not for him or anybody you else involved? Why do we take them back only for everything to implode even worse than before? Why do we search for happiness from the very people that stole it to begin with? What makes us give so much power to the people that hurt us over & over again? How do we not recognise a lost cause when we see one acting, quacking & walking like one?

I can only guess at this because even though I am a perennial victim of giving second, third, fourth & fifth chances; I am still as clueless as a football player on a basketball court. Notwithstanding my ignorance, here are my three guesses.

My first guess; stupidity. When it comes to the game of love, we are all a little stupid. Matter of fact, we are idiots. We can barely see straight through the haze of euphoric blindness that enshrouds us.  It’s a utopia of sorts. So when we get a rude awakening that snaps us out of our land of roses, ice cream & rainbows; it’s tantamount to a blow to the head. Or to hit nearer the mark, a blow to the heart. It’s painful, shameful & unbelievable.

We wake-up, cry, yell, deny, accuse, ask how-why-&-where, insult, regret, cry some more & at some point not far down the road, we take them back. Even when the excuse they give is up there with the ‘dog ate my homework.’ Now tell me that is not stupidity personifed.

For my second guess, I am going with a selective memory. They say; follow your heart & your head but when in doubt, follow the head. What they don’t tell you, is that the head too can be fooled. With absence making the heart grow fonder, you start missing your ex & whenever you think of him you see only the times that made you smile. You disregard the bad & ugly in favour of the good.

That one time he said you have a Beyoncé smile and that other one when he whispered, “I love you,” for the very first time. These memories stick out like a fair-skinned person in South Sudan and you find yourself  sometimes smiling at nothing. Why do these memories remain clearer than the dark ones? Probably because the human mind chooses to cling to the good more than the bad in order to retain its sanity. You’d be better off asking an expert though,  I am after all just an average black girl.

Finally, the Messiah complex. We convince ourselves that we can save them. We tell ourselves it’s not their fault. That they would love us as much as we do them if they could. If only the previous girl hadn’t been so cold or had they been raised right or had they better friends or had their job not been so demanding et cetera et cetera. The list goes on.

We make these excuses, convince ourselves & eventually we take them back tolerating all they inflict upon us in the hope that we can mend them. Ripping ourselves into pieces to keep others whole. How sad.

If I were a fancy psychologist I’d have an even fancier explanation for this. But I am not. So I’ll keep it simple.

The time for being the good woman he crawls back to when he’s done playing around is long past. Refuse to be the help: the one that cleans up & picks up the pieces when he’s made a mess of himself. Do not let the words, “I miss you,” be the password to your panties. Have some pride.

And keep in mind that old habits die hard but they do die.