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“You’re wearing that?”

“She looks crazy in that outfit. Don’t she have mirrors?”

“Why does she walk like that?”

“Hmph… she’s soooo ugly, what does he see in her?”

Preface and/or follow these acidic remarks with extreme eye-rolling, sucking of the teeth and sometimes hours of people-bashing and you have a poisonous landfill of negativity brought to you by one of my former best friends. We’ve all had a toxic gal pal. Rude. Judgmental. Always talking down to others under the guise of wanting to “help,” yet totally oblivious to the mangled mess that is their own life. They have an opinion about EVERYTHING. They even have an opinion about opinions. Nothing good to say. And some days if we knew no charges could be filed we’ve all wanted to take a bat and Barry Bonds the ever-loving snot out of them and accompany it with a maniacal, “SHUT THE [your choice expletive] UP!”

At first, in my mind, that was just her personality. She was the big mouth of our circle. And didn’t every circle have one? I would be hypocritical if I fronted like I never joined in. Why did I take part in the gossip? I don’t have a solid answer; just a mashup of inexcusable but honest reasons: It made me feel better about myself; I truly didn’t like some of the people we discussed; there wasn’t much else to do sometimes. Lame? Yes. But 100 percent honest nonetheless.

I had my ‘Aha!’ moment one day when it dawned on me that we had been talking about (aka, tearing apart) the SAME girl for a little over THREE hours. Annoyed didn’t even scrape the surface of how I felt. I said, “Well dang, y’all! Can we talk about something else? That girl is going on about her business and we’re sitting, doing nothing but talking bad about her.”

The initial shock of my outburst rolled out waves of silencing guilt to everyone in the room. Everyone except who? My brazen bestie. She continued like I never said a word and pretty soon everyone else joined back in. I complained of fatigue and left to spend a few hours alone thinking about it all. I decided that enough was enough. I was absolutely finished with the bad-mouthing round tables. No one was helped and nothing was solved by them. All we were doing was trying to elevate ourselves at someone else’s expense, stupidly following the ringleader – my best friend and her big mouth.

From that day until the subsequent demise of our friendship some six months later, I made it my mission to shoot down every negative opinion/insult she hurled out, especially when the person on the receiving end did nothing to deserve such treatment. I started complimenting everyone and calling my bestie out on her behavior. She made excuses. Typical. And I made other friends. *Shrugs nonchalantly*

She didn’t like my newfound independence so we drifted further apart, but inwardly I cheered like a death row inmate getting a pardon call from the president. I was free, not constantly being dragged down by her storm of female-bashing. It was to the point that others hated ME because I was friends with HER. I was tired of enduring her big mouth to keep from hurting her feelings. I was tired of making excuses like, “Well, she really is a good-hearted person once you get to know her.” But I was more sick of her than anyone else, so it was a relief and an almost instantaneous drop in my blood pressure when our friendship disintegrated.

I haven’t looked back in regret. It was absolutely draining trying to keep a perpetually negative friend happy. It was an uphill battle I was undoubtedly going to lose. Why? Because there was something about herself that she hated, couldn’t forgive, was insecure about, etc. It was an internal struggle that wouldn’t end until she found the courage to self-evaluate and CHANGE. It’s easy to project negativity to others but it takes a huge measure of humility and strength to take a look in the mirror. Whatever is in you is what comes out. That’s the same for negativity and positivity alike; a lesson I learned the hard way.

Allowing that one big-mouthed friend to spew negativity is the worst thing you can do because not only will the negativity spread, but you’re also enabling her behavior and actually proving to be a horrible friend just like I was. True friends lift each other to meet and operate according to their higher nature and standards. They don’t go along with basic behavior for the sake of sparing feelings, and sit back and watch them hurt others for a quick chuckle.

Now, all these years later, I’ve been blessed with some true, positive, straight-shooting girlfriends. Are we perfect? Absolutely not, but we refuse to allow negativity to dwell among us and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am, we each are, a better friend and woman because of it.

La Truly is a late-blooming Aries with Natural hair and lots to say. Her writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. Armed with the ability to purposefully poke fun at herself and a passion for young women’s empowerment, La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and positive change. Check out her thoughts/jokes/rants on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.

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