I wrote the following essay last year and submitted it to HelloGiggles. Wasn’t published, but such is life. I’m proud of it all the same. Check it out below. Feel free to let me know what you think.
The Value of Tough, Ouch-y Love
Deep down, I knew it was coming.
As I informed the bestie that my latest crush’s peripheral staring of me was indisputable proof that he shared my feelings—because we all want a declaration of mutual interest by way of side-eye—I recognized the palpable silence on the other end of the phone. Why was this silence so telling? Wasn’t she just listening, waiting for me to finish? No. Our conversations are mostly endless gab and laugh fests, where silence rarely comes in. If she is quiet, it usually means (1) she’s watching the latest antics of the Kardashians and held rapt by Kris Jenner’s, uh, mothering skills, or (2) she doesn’t buy a word of what I’m saying. Since she was in the car and Kardashian-free, it was obviously the latter. Not surprisingly, upon finishing my diatribe, the bestie proceeded to very firmly tell me that I was not in my right mind.
But this brief missive isn’t completely about the fact that in the end, I realized she was right. Peripheral staring by the crush (which happened, like, two times, to be honest) and the other non-events in my little infatuation dance with him were basically meaningless and not indicative of anything. Overall, we’re discussing the benefits of about tough love, folks. The truth is, we all need an emotional shakedown every now and again from a bestie/mom/sister/brother/crazy aunt who has your best interests at heart. If you should get a dose of tough love and you feel a bit bruised and/or ready to never speak to that person in your life again, here are a few things to consider:
1. Some of your favorite films are about tough love. Think about every rom-com you’ve loved and have secretly watched more times than you’d care to admit. Right before the epiphany, before the protagonist is running through the airport and breezing by security to declare his/her feelings to his/her true love, there’s always a good friend (or a neat musical montage) to straighten them out and tell them what we viewers have known all along and the protagonist is denying: it’s love, dummy.
However, a notable mention is My Best Friend’s Wedding, a film that, at its core, is about tough love: the efforts of George (Rupert Everett) to convince his friend Jules (Julia Roberts) that her plan to get Michael (Dermot Mulroney) back is useless. To me, tough love was captured in one heartbreakingly real exchange. Feel free to read and weep, or I’ll just weep, and you read:
George: Michael’s chasing Kimmy?
George: You’re chasing Michael?
George: Who’s chasing you? Nobody, get it?
Weeping? Or just me?
2. It’s very easy to only focus on the “tough” part. How can we not? It hurts. And when something hurts, it’s very easy to focus on the person administering the pain. But it’s not called tough I-couldn’t-care-less. It’s tough love. My bestie very plainly informed me to move on. She was unflinching and not really that sympathetic. But she also concluded by saying, “I do love you and want someone to see you for your amazing wit, creativity, and intelligence. Oh and beautiful eyes and lips!” (Word for word. I saved that text message and will never delete it.) Underneath the tough was her wish for me to realize that when The One comes, the Real One, I will know. So after the sting, the love part comes and you’re all warm and fuzzy and saving awesome text messages from your very best friend in the world. Seriously!
3. Tough love, like time, waits for no one. Think about it: eventually, we figure things out in life. That guy is no good for me; I should stop eating sushi because I really am allergic; changing my major three or four times is not cool in my junior year. With time, we get it. But tough love gets you there faster. Best to slap that sashimi out of your hands now instead of racing you to the ER later, right? In other words, experience can be a teacher, yes, but tough love is like the college advisor who will quickly tell you to grow up and stop avoiding the Math credit already. (True story.) Most of our perceptive loved ones and friends would rather us avoid the inevitable and/or frightening outcome of some of the endless and questionable paths we choose to take, and that’s where the snap-out-it-will-you comes in. Experience doesn’t always have to be a teacher. We need it, believe me.
In the end, I’m thankful for my bestie’s intervention and I told her as much. You know the saying: when one dose of tough love is given and applied, two karaoke bars are saved from weepy, alcohol-soaked performances of Taylor Swift’s Trouble. You’re welcome, future audiences.
Oh, George. (Rupert Everett, My Best Friend’s Wedding)
Photo Credit: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/george%20downes