Celebrating the one year anniversary of No, I Don’t Have To

One year ago today, I independently published my very first ebook, No, I Don’t Have To via Amazon. By releasing my book, I realized my dream of becoming an author and creating another income source on my road to entrepreneurship.
To celebrate my first anniversary, I am releasing the story that has received the most feedback and reactions FOR FREE. See below-Imaginary Race.

I’m also excited to announce that I will be re-releasing the paperback version of No, I Don’t Have To with more stories and activities in Spring 2021.

I appreciate all of the love and support I’ve received in the last year and look forward to sharing more of my writing and experience with you all!
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

“Hey, Girl!” I said as I walked up to my good girlfriend Toya at our favorite table at our favorite restaurant.

“Hey, Macy,” Toya said as she stood up to hug me.

“How was your day, Toya?”

“It was good. How about your day?”

“My day was amazing.”

I could have sworn I saw an eye roll come from Toya, but I ignored it.

“Yes! Amazing. Remember that guy Jordan I told you about that works on the second floor of my building.”

“Yes, what about him?” Toya said dismissively.

“Today, he asked to take me out to lunch.”

“And you went, Macy?”

“Of course, I went. Why wouldn’t I?”

“For starters, you just met him, and you know nothing about him.”

And it began. Most of the time, when I tell Toya any good news, she’s always looking at the negative side of things, and I usually let it go, but this time was such a reach I had to say something.

“Toya. Girl, please. We went to the café next store to our building, not some secluded hotel; it was fine.”

“If you say so. I’m going on a date with John tonight…”

And as usual, Toya had to butt in with a story like mine.
Not to relate to what I have going on but to compete with what I had going on. She had been like this since I met her in high school, but each year she took it up a notch. It had become quite draining.

“John is a lawyer. He makes in the high six figures and is so sweet. We’re hitting it off. We might become serious soon.”

“I’m happy for you, girlfriend,” I said with a smile.

“How much do you think your new little friend makes?” Toya asked with a smirk.

“I don’t know, girl. I didn’t ask him that. We just went out for lunch.”

“It can’t be much working in that building. But I’m sure he has potential.”

“Toya, I hope you have a good date with John tonight,” I told her, trying to change the subject quickly.

She didn’t take the hint.

“Tell me about your date. You said the word amazing. What was so amazing?”

“We had a good time, that’s all. Did you see The Housewives last night? This week’s episode was crazy.”

I knew changing the subject entirely to one of Toya’s favorite topics, reality television, would do the trick. She was obsessed with those shows and could talk about them for hours criticizing, scrutinizing, and judging those women and their families as if she knew them.

Let me back up. Toya is my girl. Since the day we met in homeroom on the first day of high school, she has been there for me. She may be hard to deal with, but her judgmental ways come from a good place. At least I think they do.

By the end of lunch, I was all caught up with Toya’s life and had told her minimum new things about mine. She often dominated the conversation, and if I tried to tell her a story, she always had one that could top it, so I usually just listened to her talk. I didn’t realize that lunch would be the beginning of the end of the dynamic we had established for so many years.

At the end of the lunch, I remember feeling like I had in more recent times after our outings. Depleted, drained, and wondering why we were even still friends. The wondering why we were friends would always fade by our next encounter. Toya didn’t always have this attitude. She isn’t always miserable. It usually comes out after she’s spent time with her overbearing younger sister. Even though Toya was the oldest, her little sister, Monica, ran everything.

Toya does have some great qualities about herself. She’s smart, helpful, has your back; having your back does come with hearing her mouth, but the good outweighs the bad.

The following week was my birthday, and my friends and I, including Toya, got together for a spa day and night away in a hotel. There were four of us, and my girls spared no expense.

“Thank you so much for planning this beautiful staycation,” I said to my girls as I sat in the pedicure chair, getting my toes painted while sipping champagne.

“You deserve it. Happy birthday to one of the hardest working women I know,” our friend Allison said as she raised her glass.

“I toast to that, too,” Kayla jumped in. “You only turn thirty once, and you deserve all the happiness you’re experiencing now and then some.”

“Ditto,” said Toya.

“Thanks, guys. This means the world to me. This is the perfect birthday celebration. I couldn’t ask for better friends.”

And it was times like that when I knew why I kept Toya around. Sure, she didn’t have a heartfelt toast like the other girls, but she had arranged our whole getaway because she knew I was stressed with work and completing my masters. She set up the weekend, paid for my half, and ensured I had a great time, which I did. After the spa, we got dressed up and went to the fancy rooftop restaurant at the hotel. Toya paid for everyone’s meal, and we danced under the stars. It was one of the best birthdays I had ever had in my life.

Eight months later, I was graduating with my master’s degree and had made it official with Jordan, the guy from my office building. We kept in touch after our lunch by dating and getting to know each other. The relationship was new. I wasn’t ready to call him the one at that point, but I could feel myself falling, and from what I could tell, he was falling, too.

Toya was still dating John, the lawyer she met online. When she suggested we go out for a couple’s date night, I thought there would be no harm. We were both pretty serious about our guys, so I thought there couldn’t be any harm in that.

There was a lot of harm; I just couldn’t see it. Or instead, I didn’t want to see it.

We all arrived at the restaurant at the same time. We saw John parking his silver S550 next to Jordan’s 3 series BMW.

“That is a nice car he has over there,” Jordan said to me as we waved at the couple, and they waved back.

“Yes, it is,” I replied. “He’s a big-time lawyer, I hear. Represents some pretty heavy hitters in town, from what I understand.”

“Cool, can’t wait to meet him,” Jordan said as we prepared to exit his car.

That’s what I love about Jordan. He’s just like me. He’s happy for other people’s success, not intimidated, always giving credit where it was due.

We greeted Toya and John as we all exited our cars. I hugged Toya as always, and we began introductions.

“Macy and Jordan. It is Jordan, right?” Toya looked between me and Jordan questioningly.

I thought to myself; she knows his name is Jordan. He’s the only man I’ve talked about for at least a year, from when we first met on the elevator of our work building and began flirting.

“Yes, Toya. It’s Jordan,” I replied flatly.

“Macy and Jordan, this is my man, John. John meet Macy and Jordan.”

John extended his hand towards us.

“Nice to meet you both.”

We each shook hands.

“It’s nice to meet you, too. John, I’ve heard so much about you.”

“All good things, I hope,” John said teasingly with a smile.

“Of course. Of course,” I replied.

“And this is Mr. Jordan I’ve heard so much about,” Toya said, looking at Jordan.

“It’s me in the flesh. And you’re the best friend I’ve heard so much about,” Jordan said back.

“That’s a smooth ride you have there, my brother,” Jordan said to John.

“Thank you, brother. I treated myself for my birthday this year and decided to upgrade a little bit,” John said with a humble smile.

“John is so modest,” Toya butted in. “He makes that firm he works for a lot of money, and they reward him handsomely. He deserves that car. Don’t you just love the color?”

“It is a nice color,” I said.

“And it’s the big boy joint. Don’t you just hate when people get these luxury cars but get the smaller version just to say they have a luxury car, and you see it and think, oh, that’s cute,” Toya said as she chuckled to herself.

The rest of us stood there, awkwardly. I know we were all thinking the same thing-did she just take a shot at Jordan’s BMW because it was the 3 series?

“Umm, let’s all get inside. Our reservation is for 7:30,” John said to our group.

When we got to our table, Jordan instantly pulled my chair out for me while John sat down, leaving Toya standing and looking irritated.

“John, babe. Aren’t you going to pull out my chair?” Toya said to John with an irritated face.

“Oh, sure. We usually don’t do that kind of stuff, so I wasn’t thinking,” John laughed.

“Poor dear must be hungry and tired with all that hard work and billable hours,” Toya said, making an excuse for John’s lack of chivalry.

“Understandable,” Jordan said, “I can understand being tired from a long day of work.”

“I’m sure it’s not the same thing, Jordan,” Toya shot back.

Just then, our waitress came over to the table and told us about the wine list and specials for the night. I was already regretting the dinner, and all we’d ordered was water.

When the waitress left, I looked up at Toya and noticed her earrings. They were the same earrings from a cute little boutique that I frequent. I had told her about them the month before and how I had been saving up for them.

“Nice earrings, girlfriend,” I said to Toya as nicely as possible.

“Thank you, Macy girl. They were a surprise gift from my Johnny bear.”

John chimed in, “I don’t know if surprise is the word I’d use. You specifically brought these earrings up in almost every conversation we had and told me where to find them.”

Toya looked embarrassed.

“Oh, John. I just mentioned they were nice,” Toya said nervously. It was clear she didn’t think John was going to share that tidbit of information.

“Yes, you did. At least three times a day. I took the hint. Jordan, you know what I mean. You must pick up on the hints to keep your lady happy instead of nagging.”

John and Jordan laughed and slapped five.

I laughed nervously, but on the inside felt betrayed. She knew how much I wanted those earrings and was close to buying them for myself. I hadn’t told John about them. They were my celebratory earrings for a good year at work. They were diamond-studded, just like the pair my father gave me as a little girl. The pair I lost a week after his death. To me, Toya had sunk to a new low, but I decided to get through the dinner and deal with it later.

We finished eating and had two bottles of wine between us. Despite feeling hurt about the earrings, we had a great time. John was funny and down to earth. He and Jordan seemed to hit it off instantly. When the bill came, John reached for it and told us it would be his pleasure to treat, and he wasn’t taking no for an answer.

“It’s the least I could do. I’m happy to be meeting Toya’s best friend, who she talks about all the time, and a cool brother like yourself, Jordan. All my homies are back home out of state, so it’s a change a pace to hang out with a down to earth brother and not those stuffy know it all types I meet through the firm.”

“Likewise, my brother,” Jordan said.

“Maybe we can catch the big game next weekend. I’m taking a client and work buddies out next Sunday. You should join us.”

“I’m there, man,” Jordan replied enthusiastically.

Toya and I looked at each other and smiled. It was always our dream to have men who got along so we could all hang out, go on double dates, and vacations together. We often joked about dating real-life brothers, so we would always be close. And although I was happy, John and Jordan were getting along; I was still feeling betrayed about those earrings. I decided to leave it alone until later.

We all walked out of the restaurant three hours later. Each couple arm and arm, smiling and laughing. The guys gave each other a dap, and Toya and I hugged before we got in our cars.

As we pulled off, Jordan started the conversation.

“That was fun. John is a cool dude.”

“Yes, he is,” I agreed.

“Are you okay?” Jordan asked.

“I’m fine,” I lied, “a little tired.”

“I noticed you weren’t really yourself during dinner.”

“Dinner was great.”

“Yeah, but something was off. It happened around the time you and Toya were talking about her earrings.”

And instantly, I burst into tears. I told Jordan about my dad’s death when I was sixteen, about the fight we had a few days before about my curfew, and the evil way I had treated him.

“Jordan, if I knew that was his last week on earth, I would have been a much better daughter.”

Jordan pulled his car over on the side of the road and put his arms around me.

“Baby, I’m so sorry. I know you’ve told me a little about your father, but I didn’t know it still affected you this much. Did those earrings remind you of him?”

“Not only did they remind me of him, but they are also the exact same pair I wanted, and she knew that. She knew I had been saving up for them. She knew they were special to me. She was with me when I found them in the boutique that day. I confided in her when my father died, and I confided in her again that day. She would always ask me if I was ready to or close to buying them. I thought she was asking as a friend, a sister, and she does this. Gets a rich boyfriend and snatches my earrings from under me.”

At that point, I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I knew Toya could be petty and competitive, but this was a new low. Jordan hugged me and rubbed my back as the tears ran down my face.

“It’s going to be okay, babe. Just let it all out. I’m here for you.”

That night we stayed at Jordan’s place. He gave me a pair of his pajamas, and we sat and ate ice cream while we watched reruns of Good Times. It was my father’s favorite television show, and we would often watch reruns together when he was off on the weekend. It felt good having Jordan sitting with me, letting me talk, and being an open ear for me. If I hadn’t before, I was falling in love with that man that night.

The next morning, I woke up to Jordan making waffles and bacon, and I joined him in the kitchen.

“Everything looks and smells good, babe,” I said to Jordan as I hugged him slightly from the back.

“Have a seat. I’ll make you a plate. Do you want orange juice, coffee, water?”

“I’ll take the juice.”

“Juice coming up. How are you feeling today?”

“A lot better. Thanks so much for last night. I didn’t realize I had so much built up inside of me.”

Jordan came over, hugged me, and kissed me on my cheek.

“I’m always here for you. Remember that, baby. I have something to tell you.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I’m in love with you.”

Tears came to my eyes as I threw my arms around Jordan’s neck.

“I love you, too, baby. So much.”

Jordan hugged me back tightly.

After we ate, we showered and got right back in some comfy clothes as we curled up on the couch. I was so glad it was the weekend, and we were both off until Monday.

As we watched movies, Jordan brought up what had still been nagging me since the night before.

“Since we’ve declared our love, I think there’s something I need to talk to you about,” Jordan told me.

I got nervous. I thought about what this man is about to tell me. Is he hiding a wife, some kids, an illicit pass?

“What’s that?” I asked.

“First, let me ask you this question. Why are you friends with Toya?”

I wasn’t expecting that question, but truthfully it was something I had been asking myself.

“Where is this coming from?” I asked Jordan.

“Macy, that woman is not a true friend to you. She is spiteful and jealous of you. I could see from the first few minutes of interaction on the street last night.”

“What are you talking about?” Deep down, I knew what he was talking about.

“Within her first few minutes of meeting me, she was already throwing shots at my car. At first, I thought she was trying to offend me, but after those earrings and a few other remarks, it was clear she’s trying to throw shots at you.”

I interrupted him, “I know Toya can be a bit much, and she doesn’t think before she speaks, but she has been a good friend to me.”

“I have no doubt she has been, but that spirit of jealousy is overpowering that.”

For some odd reason, I was getting offended. I knew how I felt about Toya and her shortcomings, but I didn’t like Jordan pointing them out and questioning my twenty years of friendship with my best friend.

“Toya has had a rough life. Her family isn’t like ours, and she doesn’t always think about what she’s saying, but she’s not a bad person. She’s my best friend, and she wants the best for me. She just has a different way of showing it.”

“Look, I’m not saying all of those things you say aren’t true. But I saw your face at dinner, and I held you last night while you cried. The thing with the earrings really hurt you; she had to know it would. Why would a true friend do that?”

“Jordan, I don’t appreciate you questioning my friendship with my sister. Nobody or no relationship is perfect. I don’t know why she did the earring thing, but I will talk to her. It really isn’t your place to bring it up.”

“I apologize if you’re upset. But I don’t apologize for what I said. I don’t want to see my girl hurt, and from what I can tell, that’s her mission-to hurt you or to at least belittle you.”

“No, it’s not!” I said, “You don’t know. Please just give her a chance. I don’t want a problem with my man and my closest friend.”

“There won’t be a problem, but I want you to speak up for yourself and open your eyes.”

Jordan and I left the conversation at that. I promised him I would speak to Toya about how hurt I was, and I would be more aware of the sly comments she made.

I wished Toya didn’t do or say some of the things she did, but she was still a good friend to me throughout the years. Her good qualities far out shadowed her flaws, and that’s just what they were, flaws. No one is perfect, and I thought deep down inside Toya loved me; she just had some insecurities she needed to work through on her own.

The next day I had plans with my mother and sister, so Jordan drove me to my place early in the morning. He walked me to my door, and as we hugged goodbye, he had me promise to talk to Toya soon.

While getting dressed, my phone rang. I thought it was Jordan letting me know he had made it back home safely. I was disappointed to grab it and see Toya’s name, but I thought I might as well get the conversation over with already.

“Hello?”

“Hey, girlfriend,” Toya said excitedly.

“Hey, Toya. How are you?”

“I’m great, getting ready for brunch with John. How are you?”

“I’m great, too. Getting ready to hang out with Ma and Terry.”

“Tell them both I said hello.”

“I will, girl.” I knew I probably wouldn’t. My family had a problem with Toya, too. They felt like she was always trying to be some made-up competition. I wished my loved ones could see and get to know the Toya I know.

“What’s up, girl? How was your weekend?” Toya asked.

“I spent the weekend with Jordan. It was simple but romantic.”

“That’s nice. I wish I could spend the whole weekend with John doing nothing, but he is so busy with all those big-time clients and all he just doesn’t have the time to get away and do nothing like other people.”

“Toya, why did you get those earrings?”

“Huh? Oh, the earrings. Girl, I didn’t get them. You heard John. He bought them for me.”

“It sounded like he bought them with a lot of persuasion from you.”

“You know how men are. They exaggerate so much. I mentioned they were nice while out shopping one day. He’s so sweet, and he must have taken notice. Is that okay with you?”

Toya began to sound a bit annoyed with me and my questions.

“Actually, it’s not okay. It hurts. You know I wanted those earrings because of my dad. I think it’s weird that you showed them to him at all and that you would flaunt them so nonchalantly knowing my history.”

“Macy, I would never intentionally hurt you. I’m sorry. I was just excited about the jewelry my man bought me. I know you wanted them, too. But it’s not my fault my man can afford to buy me things on a whim.”

“Is that why you think I’m mad? Because your man can buy you things? My man can buy me things, too! But I didn’t want him to buy me those earrings. I wanted to buy them for myself in memory of my father. You know that.”

“I know. I know. That’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean?”

“Girlfriend, I don’t want to fight with you. I’m sorry you’re hurt. Again, it was not intentional. I wasn’t thinking. I won’t even wear them around you anymore. Please forgive me.”

“Sure. Thanks for understanding,” I said dryly.

“We good, girlfriend?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Good! I can’t have my best sister friend mad at me for something so silly.”

And with that, Toya went on a ten-minute conversation, all about herself, of course. We got off the phone with plans to hang out the following Sunday since our men would be getting together to watch football that day.

I didn’t speak with Toya for the rest of the week, which wasn’t unusual. We were both busy during the week with our careers. I did see and spend as much time as possible with Jordan. That Saturday he told me he had a special surprise for me, and I was excited.

While at dinner, he handed me a gift bag.

“What’s this?” I asked excitedly.

“You’ll have to open it and find out.”

I pulled back the tissue paper covering the gift Jordan had surprised me with. Inside, there were three jewelry boxes. I opened the first small box, and I couldn’t contain my tears.

“Jordan,” I whispered. Inside the box were the diamond-studded earrings that reminded me of dad. Inside the other two boxes were the matching necklace and bracelet.

“Jordan. I’m speechless.”

“Don’t say anything, baby. You deserve this and the world.”

“This is the most thoughtful and generous gift anyone has ever given me. Thank you.”

I was full-blown crying when I leaned in to kiss Jordan. Each day I fell more and more in love with that man. I remember around that time knowing he was the one, and I knew my dad would approve.

The next day Jordan dropped me off at Toya’s house. I was relieved he hadn’t said anything about her since our conversation the week before. John also met us at Toya’s home so Jordan could ride with him to the game. As soon as we walked in, Toya noticed my bracelet and earrings.

“You got the earrings and bracelet! How lovely. Did you get your bonus at work?” she asked me.

“Jordan surprised me with them. He got me the necklace, too. But it didn’t go with this blouse, so I left it home today.”

“Oh. How nice,” Toya replied, “When did you get them?”

“Last night,” Jordan interjected, “John, you about ready to go?”

I squeezed Jordan’s arm. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was sick of Toya and her slick comments.

The guys headed out, and Toya and I left to head to the museum for an exclusive viewing. In the car, Toya had more questions for me.

“You two are getting pretty serious, aren’t you?” She inquired.

I was too ecstatic to pick up on or care about any tone she carried and just went into talking about what I considered the love of my life.

“Yes, we are. I’m so in love. Girl, I think he’s the one.”

“The one what?” She asked.

“The one for me, silly. My soulmate. My future baby daddy,” I laughed.

“You know this already?”

“Yes! I do.”

“How do you know so soon? And how do you know if he loves you?”

“He told me, and more than that, he shows me.”

“He told you he loved you already?”

“Why are you acting so surprised. We have been seeing each other for almost a year. It was bound to happen.”

“I’m just surprised, that’s all. I’ve known John the same amount of time, and he hasn’t told me he loves me.”

“Do you love him?”

“I think I do.”

“Are you happy?” I asked.

“John and I have a lot of fun together. He’s funny, intelligent, successful, generous. But I’m not sure how serious he takes me and our relationship.”

“What makes you say that?”

“We see each other weekly, but I don’t feel like we know each other on a deep level like you know Jordan. Like Jordan knows about your dad, right?”

“Yes, I tell him a lot.”

“And I assume he tells you a lot?”

“He does.”

“John isn’t like that with me. I mean, he’s nice, and we know the basics about each other, and he remembers, but we’re not as close as I’d like us to be. Do you know we’ve never even spent the night together?”

“In almost a year, you two still aren’t having sex?” I asked shockingly.

“Oh, no. We have sex. Mind-blowing sex, girlfriend.”

We both laughed and slapped five.

“But at the end of the night, he either leaves to go home or drives me back to my place. We’ve never stayed the night together and woke up to each other,” Toya confided in me.
“Why do you think that is? Do you think there’s somebody else?”

“No. No. I don’t think that.”

“Have you asked him about it?”

“You know I have, and he just tells me he’s not ready for that. I hope I’m not wasting my time.”

This was the Toya I knew and loved. Honest and vulnerable, her heart always ready for love. She wasn’t throwing around rude comments or being shady. She was letting her heart out, and being her best friend, I was there to assure and comfort her. In times like this, I knew why I kept my friendship with Toya. She needed me. I had to be there for her, she didn’t have many genuine people in her life, and I took my role as her friend seriously.

The next few months seemed to fly by. I grew closer to Jordan. We were planning to move in together as both of our leases were up. I still spent time with my best friend, and she was still seeing John, although she didn’t know for how much longer. Toya had been great in those times, too. Jordan grew to like hanging out with her, and he and John had become fast friends. My man and my best friend were getting along, and I was on cloud nine.

To celebrate our moving in together, Jordan and I planned a big housewarming. We were renting a beautiful and spacious townhouse and were excited to celebrate with our family and friends.

I saw Jordan’s brother hand him a small box in the middle of the party, but I didn’t think much of it and continued socializing with our guests.

When we broke out the karaoke machine, Jordan’s best friend suggested we kick off the show since it was our house. We sang Tell Me by Dru Hill, complete with the jumping back and forth. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. Jordan asked his friend to cut the music because he wanted to thank all our guests, or so I thought.

“Thank you all for coming out tonight to celebrate with us. We appreciate all the love and support we’ve received as we take the next step in our relationship and build our home. Who knew that over a year ago, I would meet the love of my life and settle down?”

Jordan’s friend yelled out, “Man, we didn’t see that coming at all.” Everyone laughed.

“Yeah. Yeah. Who would have thought? But here I am today, in love and ready to start the next chapter. Since we’re building our first home together, it’s only right that we take the next big step.”

I was so shocked; I didn’t see it coming. I began crying, and I heard my mom and sister screaming. Jordan took the box I’d seen his friend hand to him earlier and dropped down to one knee.

“Macy, the time we’ve spent together has been more than I could have ever dreamed of. You are beautiful, smart, and ambitious. You are everything I’ve ever wanted in a woman and more. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife and spending the rest of your life with me?”

I didn’t even have to think about it. “Yes! Yes, I will!”

The room exploded with loud claps, cheers, and sounds of pure joy. Our friends and family were truly happy for us, and it showed. Well, almost everybody was happy for us. I would find out the next day.

The next day Toya called me.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Hey, girlfriend!” Toya said.

“What’s up, girl?”

“I just called to congratulate you again. It was noisy last night. I didn’t get a chance to tell you through the tears and hugs properly.”

“Thank you, girl. I appreciate that.”

“Did you know it was happening?”

“No. Nobody, but Jordan and his brother knew. He didn’t want anyone spoiling the surprise.”

“He did good, girl. I’m so happy for you. But are you sure about this?”

“Am I sure about what?” I said defensively. I was thinking, I know she’s not going to start this with me the day after I get engaged, but I should have seen it coming, classic Toya.

“Are you sure you’re not rushing this? Are you sure he’s who he says he is?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean, Toya?”

“I’m just saying he seems nice and all, but overly friendly with the ladies. Do you notice how he is always hugging and touching other women on the arm? I mean, I’m just looking out for you.”

“No, you’re not!” I yelled.

“What are you yelling for?”

Toya wasn’t used to me having a backbone and standing up to her, but I had truly had enough of her crap.

“You’re a mean, jealous, hateful bitch. Everyone was right about you, but I was too blind and too stupid to see it for myself.”

“What are you talking about? Who is everybody?”

“Everybody, except me. I’ve always defended you. I’ve always had you’re back. But time and time again, you prove that you don’t have mine.”

“That’s a damn lie, and you know it, Macy.”

“Admit it, Toya. You’re jealous of me. You want to be me. You want to have the things I have. You don’t want me to do better than you. And the whole time, I’ve convinced myself that you didn’t see it that way. I tried to rationalize your behavior and attitude, but you’ve gone too far now, and I’m done. Lose my number, you hateful bitch.”

After speaking my mind, I hung up the phone on Toya.

It was hard realizing the woman I had grown up with, told all my secrets to, and considered my best friend was in a secret competition with me. The crazy part was, I was the only one who didn’t know about the competition. Everyone around me saw it and tried to warn me, but I didn’t let them.

I thought because we had been friends for so long that I had to put up with Toya.

I thought because she had a tough upbringing and a cold family that I had to step up and understand her and her ways. I felt I had to take her remarks and behavior because we had been friends for so long, and she didn’t mean any harm.

I did end up talking to Toya months later. She called me to apologize. She told me she had done some deep self-reflection and went to therapy to deal with her past trauma. She sincerely apologized for hurting me the day after my engagement and all those times in the past.

I forgave Toya and accepted her apology, but our friendship will never be the same. We will never be as close as we were. She did attend my wedding but as a guest. I couldn’t let her close to the planning and risk her sabotaging the biggest day of my life. We still chat from time to time and catch lunch or a quick drink every few months. But now there are boundaries, and she doesn’t try to cross them. She’s even found someone she’s in love with and seems genuinely in a happy place. I’m happy for her, and for once, I feel like she’s genuinely happy for me.

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