Madea has the right idea! This was a foreign concept to me until 2019 in Tucson. Before starting my transformation journey it was commonplace for me to jump through hoops of fire, backpedal, apologize and say whatever the person wanted to hear so they would remain in my life.
In doing this, I gave them my power. The person with the power naturally abuses it while you spend your time kissing their ass and trying to be the person they want you to be. It’s futile and exhausting. I don’t recommend it.
On Friday evening it was common for Jim, Mr. Tucson, Yolanda, and our neighbors to gather for happy hour, typically at the neighbor’s house or ours. On this March evening, Yolanda and our neighbor came to our house. Yolanda was lit. Our neighbor indicated they had several drinks before arriving at our door. Yolanda, helping herself to wine, took her full glass and sat at the counter. Mr. Tucson and I stood side by side across on the opposite side of the counter. Yolanda’s body language told me she was looking for a fight. Sure enough, the more she drank the more argumentative she became. I’d seen it a million times, she wanted to argue, insult and attack while I stood and took it. Years of experience told me no one was going to walk away unscathed.
I remained calm until she said, “Your friends are snobby Bitches. They treated me like I was the hired help at your party.” With my heart pounding and my face on fire, I spoke up. “Yolanda, my friend’s made every effort to make you feel comfortable. Several of them asked if they did something to upset you. They didn’t understand why you were treating them the way that you were. I recognize you are an introvert and being in a group of people you don’t know, is uncomfortable for you.” She interrupted “Give me a break. Of course, you defend them.” To retake the conversation, I talked over her and said “I invited you because you said that you wanted to meet more women. They are women with who you share a lot of commonalities. I see it was a mistake! The 300 ft wall you have up makes it impossible to get to know the fun, intelligent, and interesting you. I won’t make that mistake again.”
Looking at her face, I knew I struck a nerve. She didn’t like being called out.
I took a deep breath, let it out, and tried to remain calm. As I looked at her, she asked Mr. Tucson “What is the date and time of the dinner?”
I thought “Here we go!” She extended the private dinner invitation to our neighbor and her husband. When our neighbor happily accepted and put the date on her calendar, Yolanda looked at me with a smirk.
I refused to let her bate me but thought “Can you be a bigger asshole?” It is commonplace for Yolanda and Jim to extend private invitations to other people. In my book, that is rude and classless. In their book, it is acceptable unless it is done to them.
I tossed and turned all night. By morning, I decided to tell Yolanda, that the invitation from my bosses shouldn’t have been extended to anyone. The last thing I wanted to do was to tell my boss the party had grown by 2. Tacky!
“Good morning. I’ve been thinking about the neighbors being invited to the dinner and I don’t think that’s a good idea, do you? The dinner is to thank you for your referral and to thank your friends for buying a home through them”, I texted. Her response was predictable. “Hey, thanks for having me over. I had a good time. What are you talking about? I told her about the invitation. She emphatically denied having done so and was pissed that I would accuse her of it. I suggested she get with the neighbor because the date was on her phone calendar.
This didn’t sit well with Yolanda because she is never wrong. She doesn’t like the taste of crow. Having to eat it inflamed her all the more. Once the situation was rectified with the neighbor, I let it go.
It was a morning in March several weeks later, when I received a long-ass text from Yolanda. Prior experience told me a significant time commitment was needed to read and respond. I texted to let her know I received it and I would respond after work.
Generally, a text that length indicated a tirade that she sent to me and Mr. Tucson. The source of her anger was generally my brother. In her words “He’s passive-aggressive and toxic. I do everything for him and he does nothing for me. I can’t have people like that in my life….” I was tired of listening to the negativity and hearing how she was wronged. If I waited long enough to respond, she’d get over it and move on.
Several hours later, Mr. Tucson texted to ask “What is in the text Yolanda sent?” I didn’t realize he wasn’t on the distribution. I told him I hadn’t read it and asked why. “She sent me a text a few minutes ago saying the text was meant for Jim, not for you,” he said. That was curious.
Around 1:00 pm, I walked into our house and heard Mr. Tucson say “Shari, you need to read the text.” After making lunch, I sat down to read it. She was on a rampage, but I was the reason, not my brother.
Her words were scathing! Her feelings about me were clear; I am despicable, passive-aggressive, toxic and self-righteous. I never respond to her texts, I never do anything for her and I am a bully. I failed her in every way. For these reasons, she wasn’t going to tolerate me another second.
I set the phone down, finished my lunch while pondering my feelings. I was calm! I harbored no resentment or ill will. I couldn’t believe it because, in the past, I walked on hot coals, sold my soul to the devil, and begged people to remain in my life. All the while, doing my best to morph into who they wanted me to be. After 2.5 months of Whitney’s coursework, I was seeing a huge payoff.
The words came to me effortlessly, “Yolanda, I read your text. Your feelings about me are clear. Like you, I don’t want toxic people in my life. Do what you have to do.”
I sensed she was hoping for a nasty response. In her mind, that would give her words credence.
She continued her hateful attack and finished by telling me she was blocking my number and blocking me on social media, blah, blah, blah. I responded “I wish you the very best. I’m sending you off in light and love.”
Mr. Tucson walked into the kitchen and asked to read the text. Yolanda texted him that morning to say “I guess our friendship is over. I sent a text to Shari that was meant for Jim.”
Without skipping a beat, I continued my day feeling tremendous relief. At that moment, I realized I took my power back.
A few moments later I received a message from Spirit, “We hear and see everything. She had to go! There are more.” Most people would think that was foreboding, not me. If other people leaving my life made me feel this strong, then I was on board.
Sadly, the next person to leave was Jim. He is very much like Yolanda and Mr. Tucson. The world revolves around him, he lacks self-awareness and empathy. His top priority is partying. If you are not drinking with him and filling his self-esteem cup he has no use for you.
Jim is the oldest and I am the youngest with an 8-year age difference. Our relationship during our youth was one of incessant teasing and tormenting. The pleasure shined bright in his eyes when he brought me to tears. “You’re a cry baby”, he would say. Then he’d walk away laughing.
At 13, when I stopped reacting he stopped teasing. He moved out of the house shortly after graduating high school. When he came home to visit, he didn’t have the time or patience for me.
I always fell short of getting his approval and respect regardless of effort. But, that didn’t stop me from trying.
As an adult, I noticed Jim giving respect and attention to the people who fed his ego or who he idolized. It didn’t matter that some of those people treated him like shit. He bent over backward to win their favor but, treated family like shit. When a statement of fact is made to him that he doesn’t believe, he works tirelessly to berate and discredit the person who made it. In his mind, the person was lying because no one knows more than he does.
He was divorced and living with Yolanda. When Yolanda bought a house in rural Michigan, they invited me to their house warming party. In true Jim style, there were a ton of people in attendance. Some I knew, most I didn’t. Jim disappeared leaving me to manage on my own. There were people inside and out. His parties were always fun because he and many of his friends are musicians which meant live music. Who doesn’t love live music!
Not long after pouring myself a drink, I ran into a friend of Jim’s. They met years before when they worked for the same iron worker union chapter. The two of them were working a job at Ford Motor headquarters at the time I worked for the company. It was surprising that Jim planned and showed for a meet-up lunch one afternoon where he introduced us. As usual, we settled into a funny and interesting conversation. As people, passed and smiled, he’d ask “Do you know Jim’s sister, Shari?” With enlarged eyes and a noticeable discomfort they asked “You’re Jim’s sister? I thought Jim had one sister who is crazy and a brother.” I stopped counting after the 10th person. It was hurtful that Jim and Yolanda didn’t find me significant enough to mention. So, you can imagine my delight when everyone I was introduced to gave Jim shit for it. Jim’s only response was, “Oh well. What’s the big deal?” He walked away with a smile on his face.
So, it didn’t surprise me to learn that Mr. Tucson didn’t know of me when Yolanda approached him about partnering at the horse shoe-throwing contest but he knew of Kim and Chris.
It wasn’t until my move to Tucson that Jim and I finally shared two commonalities, caring for our mother who has Alzheimer’s, and our affection for Mr. Tucson. This gave me hope that we would have a close relationship.
Mr. Tucson, Yolanda, Jim, and I hung out fairly regularly. We shared a love of music, festivals, food, and drink. There were game nights and movie nights. Things were easy for the most part unless one of them lost their shit. This made things uncomfortable and awkward. Afterward, we’d act as nothing happened and move forward. I was taught to react this way as a young child. We didn’t dare ask the assailant to be accountable for their actions.
I sent Jim a text the day after Yolanda walked out of my life to say “I hope what happened with Yolanda doesn’t impact our relationship. I harbor no resentment towards either of you.” He responded several days later with a “We’re fine.” With the four of us not hanging out, I saw him less frequently. Once I couldn’t party with him, he lost interest in our relationship.
There were occasions we met for drinks to discuss our mother. The conversations always revolved around Jim’s feelings and thoughts, never mine. I walked away feeling as I did as a child when my father would say “Shut up you dumb mother f&%$#@#!” This was his way of telling us we didn’t have a voice and we were insignificant.
When I decided to leave Tucson I texted Jim multiple times asking for a couple of minutes of his time. Each time we planned to meet, he canceled. It was hurtful and irritating. It was a week before my departure and he still didn’t know. I was prepared to leave Tucson without telling him because I wasn’t going to text the information.
A week before I left, our neighbor asked how Jim took the news of my leaving. I said “He doesn’t know. He’s too busy to give me 5 minutes of his time.” With a huff and obvious annoyance with Jim, he headed across the street where Jim and Yvonne were playing darts. He said “Hey Dumb ass, your sister is leaving Tucson in 5 days. Don’t you think you want to talk to her? This set Jim off. There were few things he disliked more than being called out. The neighbor being one of the people who didn’t put up with Jim’s bullshit, let him have it. When the news was delivered Jim said “Hey, I’m not the asshole. She is. Mr. Tucson was going to kick her ass out anyway. Why would I care that she’s leaving? Let her dumb ass go.”
I’d like to tell you that Jim called or stopped by to talk but he didn’t. Instead, he did what he’s always done gave me the silent treatment, and walked out of my life.
I’m at peace with his exit, too. He’s not capable of giving me what I deserve out of a relationship. As I was sending him off in love and light I heard another message from Spirit. “He had to go! There are more.”
These are the people who walked out of my life in Tucson. As spirit said, more have walked since going back to Michigan. Stay tuned.
All Aboard! The Transformation train is leaving the station. Next stop, “Gettin’ The Hell Out of Dodge!“