To The “Best Friend” I Decided I Couldn’t Be Friends With Anymore

To The “Best Friend” I Decided I Couldn’t Be Friends With Anymore

Most of all, thank you for being the person who finally pushed me to choose myself.
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Dear Old Friend,

I decided we aren’t friends anymore and you may not fully understand why.

I recently read To The Bestfriend Who Decided We Aren't Friends Anymore and it struck a chord with me. I realized that I was that friend who walked away, who gave up. I hurt you and that hurts me. But, the reality is, I decided we aren’t friends anymore because… we just weren’t.

I think about all of the memories we shared, too. I haven’t forgotten all of the years we were never without each other. And if we were apart, we were texting or counting down the minutes until we would be together again. I think about the times when it wasn’t even a question if you were going to celebrate my birthday with me, binge-watch Netflix and eat junk food, or hug me until I stopped crying and forgot his name. Because all that mattered was us. We were like Blair and Serena. Everything would be OK as long as we were together, right?

But we aren’t together.

My heart is broken when I see you post pictures with other friends tagged #bestfriend #rideordie #girlfriend, when I hear one of our songs and you’re not there to sing horribly with me when I am alone or scared and you aren’t there like you’re supposed to be.

You’re just not there anymore and you haven’t been for over a year.

I moved away. I will take responsibility for leaving, for transferring colleges, for making new friends, for growing up. I know I left you, but that didn’t change our friendship for me. I never stopped being your best friend. I know I had to go days at a time without texting you back.

I know I had to go months without visiting. I go to a new college, I have new friends and I don’t live 15 minutes away anymore, but when did that stop me from being there for you? When another jerk broke your heart, I was on the phone with you until you stopped crying. When you experienced loss, I got my shift covered and drove down to you as soon as I could. I never called anyone else my best friend, it was always you; my new friends even knew that. But it was never enough for you.

Maybe I am the one who officially decided we aren’t friends anymore, but you decided too.

You decided we weren’t friends anymore when you stopped being my best friend, but expected me to be yours. You decided we weren’t friends anymore when you intentionally tried to hurt me because you felt justified in doing so.

You decided we weren’t friends anymore when you chose a boy over our friendship — over and over and over again. You decided we weren’t friends anymore when you chose to be jealous instead of happy for me. You decided we weren’t friends anymore when you made our friendship a one-way street.

Friendship, like any relationship I have learned, can’t be a one-way street. It isn’t petty, it isn’t cruel. True friendship is supportive, accepting, understanding and is never less important than a boy. Best friends never, ever intentionally hurt their best friends , no matter what the reason may be. Once you do that, you just aren’t best friends anymore.

Now, I know that when you love someone, you fight. I know that there are going to be rough patches, but I stuck around for longer than I should have. You know this. I know you know this. I forgave you over and over and over again. I forgave you for things that I never in a million years could imagine myself doing to you, or anyone for that matter; because I love you. Even when you did the unspeakable, I still loved you. You were my best friend. That meant the commitment to me. That meant loyalty and unconditional love. Until it didn’t to you.

I kept choosing you when I should have been choosing me. Well, now, I choose me.

I stand by my decision in deciding we aren’t friends anymore, but it will hurt me every day. I just know that it will hurt less than it did desperately try to save our friendship, trying to save you. You have made it clear that to you, our friendship isn’t worth saving. You have made it clear that you don’t want to be saved. So, I have no choice but to let go. I have nothing to hold on to anymore.

Despite how it has ended, I still thank you. Thank you for our years of friendship. Thank you for all of the amazing memories — memories that I, to this day, can’t imagine being topped. Thank you for showing me what true friendship is and what it isn’t. Thank you for teaching me how to be selfless, how to be forgiving and how to be a loyal friend. Most of all, thank you for being the person who finally pushed me to choose myself.

Love,

The Best Friend You Pushed Away

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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the beautiful barefoot boy

The goal isn't to live forever, but to create something that will.

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This morning, I did the same thing I do every single morning when I wake up. Before my feet hit the floor, I say a prayer. I thank God for waking me up, blessing me with such a good life, and pray for any specific thing that is laying on my heart. Lately, I have been praying a lot for the same person many people in my community have been praying for- Matt McGregor. I have prayed for healing, comfort, strength, and many other things to happen in Matt's journey, but I also prayed that God's will be done in his life above all else. Little did I know yet that His will had been done.

I remember Matt from school. Every time I saw him, everyone around him was laughing. And I am not exaggerating. He was one of those special people who can literally make anyone and everyone laugh no matter the situation. He was one of those people that the world needs around to make life more bearable and just down right better.

Death sucks. Cancer sucks. Yes, I am glad that Matt is no longer suffering, but that does not really give me a sense of relief because I know his family and friends are suffering. I think about Matt's sisters, and cannot fathom the pain that they're feeling. I could not imagine life without my brothers, my kids not getting to grow up and hang out with their cool uncles, and telling on each other to our parents when we all come home for Christmas when we're 40. I think about his parents, who are having to do the hardest thing anyone could have to do, say goodbye to their son. I think about his friends, who's lives will never be the same every time they do something that reminds them that he's no longer here to share life with. He was too young, too full of life. The worst death are the ones that can't be explained, and this one of them.

That's the thing about life, you never know when it's going to end and that is what makes it so fragile. Someone you know passes away, and you suddenly start to contemplate whether you are living your life "good" enough. You wish you'd spent more time with the one who passed, hold on a little tighter to the ones who are still here, and make sure you remind them you love them. But to show someone you love them is much more powerful than telling them, and that is exactly how Matt lived his life. His life light was beaming all the time and he was constantly sharing that with everyone around him. That is part of why he was so special.

When someone dies, they leave their own legacy that is different from every single other person on the planet. Your legacy depends on the amount of light that you have shed on others. Looking through Facebook today, it is so obvious that his light touched so many people. Matt's death has reminded me of those that I have and will continue to lose throughout life... there is no better way to say it than death sucks. But even though death sucks, it reminds us to live our life to the fullest, and continue the legacy of those we've lost.

On a side note, I found it interesting that Matt was barefoot all the time, so I googled being barefoot in biblical times. Moses and Joshua was commanded to take off his shoes as he was standing on holy ground, and poor people did not have shoes so they went barefoot. But this is my favorite: priests in Israel went barefoot while ministering. They would take their shoes off before blessing their people. It is evident that Matt blessed so many people's lives in his short time on this Earth. Coincidence that he was known for always being barefoot? I think not.

Let your life light shine brightly like Matt's, and always live life to the fullest.

. . .

In loving memory of Matt McGregor Jr.

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." Revelation 14:13

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To The Equestrian Judge That Tried To Break My Spirit

You may have won the battle, but you didn't win the war.

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There is a special thrill as a child being in the saddle for the first time. This animal delivered to me a whole new perspective of the world in all of its glory. I lived for the lessons these horses silently taught me — to be responsible, to cherish all life, to be brave in the face of adversity, and the list continues. Most of the valuable lessons I hold dear were taught by the horses I have had the honor of riding, leasing, and owning.

I wouldn't be the person I am today without these horses I adore so much, but I would be wrong if I didn't say that the coaches who taught me how to ride and the judges I have asked for advice didn't teach me valuable lessons as well. Believe it or not, even the judge who laughed in my face and insulted me showed me a crucial lesson as well. There will always be someone who doesn't like me no matter how hard I try to impress everyone.

I competed at a three-day long horse show during the summer when I was eighteen back in 2015, and I was excited because after three years of hard work Boomer and I were finally competitive to take on the big and burly quarter horses that reigned over the arena. Boomer is an Arabian horse, a relatively uncommon breed to show at this particular show and even more unusual to compete in the specific sport of Ranch Horse Pleasure.

Ranch Horse Pleasure is an equestrian sport that was made for every rider and horse. If your horse wasn't cut out for the thrilling sport of Reining and wasn't slow enough to be competitive in Western Pleasure, then Ranch Horse Pleasure was the perfect sport for avid riders. This fun and new sport was what Boomer and I planned to compete in as a stepping stone to reining, and given his almost lazy nature, he was pretty good at it.

Boomer waiting patiently for me at the gate. Photo Credit: Danielle Weeks

Although this particular horse show wasn't a top-level horse show, the competition was still very tough. Classes are often full of horses worth tens of thousands of dollars in bloodlines and training, but Boomer had proven his worth before even though I got him for free and did a large portion of his training on my own for years before this show.

The professional training Boomer did have, was earned by me through hours upon hours of saddling up horses, feeding horses, cleaning stalls, working horses, and doing other tasks around the barn for my trainers to earn training time and lessons. The work was difficult especially while I was working two different jobs, and going to junior college full time, but it was worth it seeing how well my trainers polished Boomer into an even better horse.

On the first day of competition, Boomer performed well, and the judge for the first day scored us well above my expectations. Afterward, I asked this judge for feedback, and she kindly complimented us while pointing out some criticisms she noticed to help us do better. I took note of this for the next day, and after I fed, watered, and cleaned up after twenty or so horses, Boomer and I practiced for the second day of showing and nailed our pattern. I knew we were going to do great, and I was thrilled to perform tomorrow!

But after our performance on the second day, we received a strange score. Boomer performed better than yesterday, but we received a lower rating. After my class, I took care of Boomer and the other horses and went to the office to look at my scorecard. I figured, if the judge saw anything I didn't feel, he would have written it down on the card.

When I arrived, I could see the judge putting the scorecards into the binder for the day, and I was happy I could catch him before he left for the night. When I walked up to him, I introduced myself and shook his hand, and he was very polite until I described the horse I was riding today.

The immediate change in attitude this man had was so noticeable it almost made me hesitate to continue, but I still asked, "Is there anything you saw today that I could improve on with my horse?"

Boomer and I at the three-day horse show. Taken on the second day. Photo Credit: David Weeks

Apparently, my question was funny for him, because he laughed at me as if I told him a joke, but not before telling me, "Yeah, get rid of that crazy Arab and buy yourself a real ranch horse."

My jaw dropped, and all I could do was watch him walk away from me with an astounded look on my face. Shock turned in to horror because I knew this man's dislike of my horse cost me the horse show. The thousands of hours and dollars I had spent to get to this point, was gone. None of my hard work had mattered because of this one judge who decided my horse and I didn't deserve to be here.

I dragged my feet back to the barn because it was beginning to get dark and the horses needed to be fed and watered for the night. I still wore a dumbfounded look all the way to my horse's stall, but I looked at Boomer and saw he was already watching me. When I looked at him, he let out a soft breath and walked up to the door and waited for me to pet him. I doubt he knew I was going to come into his stall and sob into his mane, but I did, because no matter how cruel people are at least Boomer's hair is thick enough to soak up my emotions.

The last day of the show went well and the judge was fair at. Unfortunately, with the averaged scores for the weekend, the second score I received by the terrible judge booted me out of the top five, and I lost out on earning a championship buckle and ribbon.

I thought long and hard about continuing to show Boomer in Ranch Riding and Reining, and I thought, maybe he was right. Perhaps I didn't belong in the sport. I saw the glares. I heard the comments that my friends and I overheard. I know the things people told my Mother, because, "[she] let her daughter ride an Arabian? Don't you know they're crazy?!" Making my Mother feel uncomfortable to be at this horse show as well.

Making my Mother uncomfortable, and the terrible judge affirmed to me that I would never return to the three-day show that gave me such a bad experience.

However, a year later I competed for the first time in Reining at a horse show series consisting of four horse shows over four months. At the end of it, Boomer and I earned a Championship and Reserve Championship buckle in our two classes. Boomer was the only Arabian to compete at the series. The year after that in 2017, we won three Reserve Championships in Ranch Horse Pleasure at a different show.

So, nice try to the judge who told me my horse and I didn't belong in this sport. I will continue to ride my 'crazy Arabian' in Reining and Ranch Riding shows and we will tear up the arena and clean up the ribbons and buckles because we have done it before and after we experienced your terrible judgment. I'll admit that you may have won the battle, but you didn't win the war. Boomer and I are not done yet, and your bad attitude isn't stopping us.

Boomer and I with our amazing Reining trainer Steven Allen after we earned our Reserve Champion buckle in Oroville California. My other amazing reining trainer, Chantel Allen took this photo that I still cherish.

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