Insecure: The Married Friend

HBO’s “Insecure” is one of my favorite shows. It’s funny, beautifully shot, and does a great job of showing the ups and downs of black adulthood. There is a widespread societal myth that once you turn 30, you have it all together. Thanks to the depressed economy, wage inequality, and massive inflation that milennials inherited from Baby Boomers, that’s not the case. Add in love life drama and it can feel like you’re not together enough to even claim the title of being an adult.



Episode 6 of Season 3 aired this past week. Warning–spoilers ahead so if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s time to get outta here! You don’t have to be an Insecure fan to understand my point, but I’ll add a little extra description for those who don’t get it. The star of the show is Issa, who is fun but slightly awkward and always irresponsible. She has three good girlfriends–Molly (her BFF) who has a high powered law career but a tragic love life; Tiffany, who is super bougie, derives great pleasure from being the only married one in the group, and is pregnant with her first child; and Kelli, who is as hard working as Molly but having much more fun being single, and is closest to Tiffany. 

Tiffany mentioned earlier in the season that she knows her friends have a group chat without her, and even though she claims to be unbothered we all know it’s a lie. In episode 5, the girls went to Coachella. They popped some pills, missed the Beyonce performance, and had some real talk. Tiffany revealed to Issa that she’s been feeling left out of the group ever since she got pregnant, and even though she didn’t go as hard as the rest of them she made an effort to ignore her pregnancy related discomfort and fatigue to have one last outing before everything changes. 

In episode 6, Tiffany has a baby shower and all these tensions come to a head. Tiffany has a new group of mom friends, dubbed “The Crazy Crew”, who planned her shower and were there extra early to make sure everything went off smoothly. While Molly and Issa seem to get past the affront with a little snark, Kelli is devastated when one of The Crazy Crew calls her beautiful handmade cupcakes a “backup dessert” and won’t put them on the main table. Kelli storms out and confronts Tiffany about excluding her from the baby shower planning after she volunteered. Tiffany says that Kelli wouldn’t understand because she’s not a mom. Kelli breaks down over the fact that she’s losing her best friend to the baby and nobody, including said best friend, seems to care.

I found it so interesting to see this scenario play out onscreen. Insecure focuses mainly on the lives of its single characters, and this was a great look at the shifting friendship dynamics that happen after major life changes. I don’t have any kids yet but I have seen and experienced some of what happens after marriage. 

No matter how long you’ve been together as a couple, a honeymoon period follows the wedding because everything feels new again. You can’t call each other husband and wife without giggling and you’re just so excited to have made it official. This is the start of the estrangement–single friends, who were assured before the wedding that nothing would change, see their married friend slipping away. A couple happy hour or brunch invitations get declined, a few calls or text messages get missed, and then they stop coming altogether. Meanwhile both friends feel like the other doesn’t care anymore.

What unmarried people don’t understand is that their married friends have good intentions. They just didn’t know what they were getting into. Being a spouse comes with a lot more obligations than being a boyfriend or girlfriend. You’ve got a whole set of in laws and if your spouse is close with their family, you’ll be expected to see them more than once a year. There’s a whole new set of birthdays, weddings, and graduations to attend. If your husband’s cousin who lives across the country comes into town and his aunt wants to have a special family reunion dinner, you gotta go too. Plus there’s all the social invitations from your spouse’s best friend(s): double dates, cookouts, game nights, engagement parties, etc. If your friend has a kid then the entire game has changed. Moms barely have time to shower and feed themselves after the baby is born, so unfortunately friendship is way down the priority list for that first year while they figure out how to keep a tiny human healthy and thriving.

It takes understanding and communication on both sides to maintain any adult friendships–even single people have jobs, other friends, family, and hobbies that take up their time. At a certain age, spontaneous weeknight drinking is just not going to be the default hangout anymore. Your friend (parent or not, married or single) isn’t trying to schedule brunch a month ahead of time because she doesn’t want to hear from you the rest of the month. She’s doing it so that time is set aside for you to get her full attention and you don’t keep getting shoved to the bottom of her priority list. Husbands and kids are special, but nobody can replace your good good girlfriends!

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Thoughtful 30

 

I’m 30, which is an age that comes with a lot of “supposed to be”. You’re supposed to be married, supposed to be starting a family, supposed to be at a high point in your care, supposed to be financially stable, blah, blah, blah. I am where I am, which is better than where I used to be but not where I want to end up and most days I’m 100% okay with that. I literally do not have the energy for anything that’s not about my family, my friends, or my job.

30 years old is when you start to recognize your mortality. You realize that you can’t take your health for granted. It could be something as big as having experienced the death of close family or friend. Or the simple fact that you can’t work out without stretching afterward and expect to be mobile the next day. Your body still bounces back from a night of drinking, or a week of eating nothing but junk food, but you feel it. It’s not automatic. I’ve really started to prioritize my health because I owe it to myself. And I feel it would be stupid of me to become a mother and try to raise a whole human, without being consistent about the things that take care of me.  I’ve got a few years left to myself and I’m using them to become a better version of me, the me that I want to maintain into my golden years. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I want to vibrate higher.

People tell me, “You’re always so calm!” or “You always know what to do!”. Which is funny because it’s so far from the truth. I am less uptight and anxious than I used to be but the progress was hard fought, and there are days when I feel crazy. What grounds me? The knowledge that stress kills, so I try not to work myself up over nothing. As for the rest of it, I do my research, ask questions, and then make a decision.  There’s no way to completely avoid making a mistake ever, and most mistakes, if made in good faith, are not unfixable. You can’t let the fear of getting it wrong 5% of the time paralyze you into never doing anything, or constantly apologizing for your decisions ahead of time. It’s inefficient and annoying as f*ck.

To close this out, I experienced a stumbling block just this week that would have sent 25 year old me into a tailspin. I got passed over for a lateral promotion that would have made me permanent at my job rather than staying on contract. And I didn’t care. I was truly at peace, and even happy for the people who got it. God has never let me down, so I know he has something better for me. Even if it’s me finally going out on my own as as solo practitioner (something else I realized will happen eventually, because I’m just not built to be a worker bee forever. I have too many strong opinions on how I could run a business better!). Not once in my life have I had to beg, borrow, or steal in order to take care of my basic, essential needs. Everything else I can live without. I trust that there will be a day when I’m rich (by my standards), and will be able to comfortably do most of the things I want. That day won’t come any faster by spending these building years envious of others, or upset that my blessings aren’t coming faster. So I will wait, gratefully.

Money Problems

I have a money problem.

Not in the traditional sense, though. I have some credit card debt but nothing that is making me eat ramen noodles or contemplate filing bankruptcy. I have student loan payments, but as long as I follow my monthly budget I can make them without sacrificing all the joy in my life. Really, what I have is a problem with thinking I won’t have enough money.

Granted, you can pick up any newspaper and read about the economic factors that are causing my generation to delay marriage, children, and home ownership. But as far as millenials go, I’m par for the course and on track to meet my financial goals–albeit not as soon as I want to.

I grew up in a household where money was tight. My parents did the best they could, and taught me from their mistakes. But being a natural worrywart, money was something I obsessed over. I hoarded my allowance and gift cards to buy brand name sneakers, and jeans on clearance from Aeropostale (yes, that brand was hot back in my day lol). In high school I decided to be a lawyer because I thought it was a profession that would allow me to help people without being broke.

Christians subscribe to the belief that God will keep testing you until you pass the test. I’ve come to the realization that money is mine. I’ve never been evicted, never missed a payment, never had a creditor call my phone. I’m not a superstar, but on balance, I’m good with money. I put aside a portion of my check each month into savings and retirement. Sure, I can’t spend $5,000 on a vacation tomorrow and I can’t buy all the things I want but that’s life. No matter how much money you have, you get used to it and there will be something you can’t afford.

In the meantime, I’m learning to sit in the discomfort of “but why can’t I have it” and practice gratitude for all the things I do have.

Soundbites

I’ve been working on an issue-related blog post for a month now and I have writer’s block. Well, not so much writer’s block- I know what I want to say but I can’t focus long enough to say it. So I’m just gonna let it cook and come back around to it. In the meantime I wanted to get some other thoughts out into the universe.

On work: That’s actually going pretty well. I work in legal aid and it’s everything I thought it would be (for good and bad, lol). Every once in a while I run into a difficult client but on the whole, they’re easier to work with than some of my private practice clients because they trust my expertise and don’t question me to death. And even when I can’t do anything, people are just so grateful to be listened to and treated with dignity. I’ve had more than one person cry on the phone because they had lost so much (I work primarily with folks who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey). I am also up for transfer to a community advocacy position which is the job I’ve been preparing for my entire career. My interview is next week and I’m just praying I get it so y’all send some good vibes my way, please!

On wellness: Sleep is everything. I mean I’ve always needed my 8 hours a night but now it’s more about physically being able to get up on time rather than just being grumpy all day. My body will get its rest whether EYE say we have time to sleep in or not. I slept through my alarm all last week and fortunately, my boss was out of town and didn’t witness my egregious lack of punctuality. I’m working on winding down at night and being disciplined about my bedtime because I legit have things to do!

On politics: America is completely f*cked. And I’m tired of all these thinkpieces about how white men feel forgotten, and conservatives feel attacked, and racists don’t want to be called racists. Liberals have their own set of issues but I’d rather have people err to the extreme of political correctness and inclusion than the extreme of hatred and condemnation. You can’t disagree with a Drumpf supporter without them taking it as a personal attack because they are their politics! So where does that get it? We’re being held hostage by a combination of backwards thinking morons and selfish greedy rich assholes. God help us.

On social life: I read a long time ago that Capricorns age backwards–we get more fun and lighthearted as we age. And in my case that appears to be true. You had to practically bribe me to be social but now I’m going out, having friends over, and even enjoying the occasional glass of moscato or champagne. I was just very goal oriented when I was younger. I knew that I needed an education to get a good foundation for life. Now I’m at the point where I just have to keep from screwing things up, so I can relax a little. Fortunately I’ve come across some cool people and developing my own little circle of girlfriends.

On mortality: I guess your 30s are when things get real. I have a friend who just received a cancer diagnosis, and another good friend who lost their father this week. All I can do is keep praying for them, and checking in to give my support so that hopefully they don’t feel alone. That last part keeps me up at night because I found out recently that a friend of mine who passed away, actually committed suicide. I’m glad I found out after the fact because knowing up front would have made it so much harder to get over. I’m still not over it, but I’ve accepted that he’s gone enough so that this new information doesn’t send me into a grief spiral. I just wish he had reached out to someone, anyone. For the record, if you are my friend and going through a hard time, I’m here for you. I’d rather you “inconvenience” me than go to your funeral.

On Greek life: I love my blue and white but I love my husband and my free time more. I won’t lie to anybody. The die hard sorors will tell me “It’s only a couple hours a month to participate!” LIES. Chapter meeting is 3-4 hours on a Saturday afternoon, which we all know is peak weekend when everything happens! Let me know when y’all stop letting people hold us hostage to read the entire minutes from all 12 committee meetings. Between email and Facebook there’s no reason to go more than 2 hours. Then y’all wanna hang out afterwards when I was just here all day. Next thing you’re asking me to be on a committee which is a 2 hour conference call every month. I would go to the social events but my choices are a) go to the movies or the park with your kids (*shudder*) or pay $40 to go hang out in the VIP section of some lounge and still have to buy my own food and drinks. If I wanted to spend $50+ on a night out I could have met my bougie friend at III Forks, ate a gourmet steak and got into Grooves for free before midnight. And did I mention the dues which seem to go up every year? GURL BYE (*in my Funky Dineva voice*)

Breaking Point

2016 has been a year.

Culturally and politically, as a Black woman, it’s been rough. We have a presidential candidate endorsed by the K_K_K who has yet to disavow said endorsement. We lost Prince. It’s apparently open warfare between the police and the Black community.

Personally, it’s also been a trial. My third wedding anniversary is coming up next month and we’ve been together for 8 years now. In all that time, we had never had a real falling out. You know, the kind where one person can’t stand to look at the other and is afraid this might be the end? Yeah, we finally had one of those. We’re back to normal now but that kind of ruined a full month of my summer. Things at my job have been. . . challenging, to say the least. If you know me personally, you know what I’ve been dealing with and if you don’t–just use your imagination. All I will say here is that I’m considering my options. Just three days ago was the first anniversary of my friend’s death. I’ve thought about him every day since he passed and it still doesn’t seem real. Riding an emotional rollercoaster on two fronts has me feeling like a crazy person. I like to stay at equilibrium. People always comment on my restraint, but it’s self preservation for me. Emotional extremes are just exhausting and if I’m too far on either side of the spectrum, it’s hard for me to buckle down and be productive.

Today I almost had a full blown anxiety attack, which has only happened to me two or three other times in my entire life. It’s the red flag, flashing lights, blaring siren sound from my subconscious to me that SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT HERE. I know exactly what needs to change and while the more prudent thing may be to wait, I’m at a point where my physical and emotional health are being compromised and that is simply not acceptable. I will find a way to do what I need to do.

I can tell from my social media newsfeeds that I’m not the only one struggling, either. The devil is busy and we all need to pray for each other.

I’m back

This blog has gotten awfully dusty. First it was because I was in an unemployment-related funk and didn’t have anything to say. Then it was because I was having an inner struggle about how much is too much of yourself to reveal on the internet. Then it was because I was just too damn busy.

Well, better late than never. Things are going pretty well. I’m getting into the groove at work and feeling less like a rookie by the day. Tex got a promotion and even though his hours have gotten almost as long as mine, he’s really loving his job. Two months after the passing of our friend, I’m finally starting to feel back to normal. I’m sleeping better and feeling less “bleh” in general. I’ve still got a lot on my plate at work but it doesn’t feel quite so impossible.

I’ve been thinking more and more about having kids. NO, I’m not nearly ready to have them but we are going to become godparents in December. I suppose I need the practice. It seems like another friend or family member gets pregnant every week now (a lot of them are MY AGE!) and I just can’t wrap my head around it. I can barely handle taking care of myself and my husband right now. I just paid off my law school credit card debt, and now I’m getting ready to make a couple balloon payments on my car note before my student loan deferment ends. I mean, we wouldn’t be broke if we had a kid but it’s not just the money (because let’s face it, as long as parents want to give their kids the world no amount of money will be enough). But the time, the energy, the sheer monumental effort…geez louise. I’m not ready for that yet.

What I have come to realize is that money/work are not important to me. At least, not the way they seem to be to society at large. I need to focus on stacking paper while we’re living that DINK* life and just know that I will need to budget to live below my means after that. Because I’m not interested in being a full time working mom, nor do I want to be a housewife. I want something in between. I’d like to be a part-time/contract lawyer so I can set my own hours and only take on as many clients as I want to. But the full time firm lawyer thing is just not gonna cut it forever. But hey, as long as I’m making more than I would folding shirts at Macy’s I’m good.

It’s become solidified for me that I’m far more interested in “leaning in” to my husband and our family than any job. Tex and I have weathered many a storm during our first two years of marriage- extended unemployment, relocation, living with his parents, and the death of one of our closest friends. And being able to count on him during those times has made me fall more in love with him than ever. He’s the best part of my life (no pun intended). I’m not going to go to my deathbed regretting that I didn’t spend enough time working. I care about my career- I worked hard to become a lawyer and I enjoy it. But as long as we have enough money to meet our needs and take a few  vacations, I’m good.

 

 

*Dual income, no kids.