I used to have a friend named Brooke.
She was loud and she was funny, and if you messed with her she wouldn’t let it go without saying. Brooke was the kind of girl who would tell you when she was mad, and she wouldn’t say it in a whisper. If you messed with her friends she would scream it even louder. I remember once in high school a girl kissed my now-ex boyfriend and, while I was too meek to make a scene about it, Brooke openly stood up for me in public and made sure everyone knew what the two of them had done. Brooke and I fell out of touch, she wasn’t a perfect friend and neither was I (which I thought was necessary for a friendship at the time), but I find myself thinking about her still now and missing her loud and fierce loyalty. Looking back I can see that she wasn’t just loyal to me, she was loyal to the best version of me. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I think she wanted me to be happy. We were two peas in a pod, two silly little girls, she, much braver than I, but she encouraged me to let loose and be a version of myself that is only a memory now. I find myself missing that girl.
I think I was happy with Brooke. I think her brave spirit made me more brave, and her fearlessness made me less afraid. Have you ever had a friend like this? Whose mere spirit just brings you comfort? Who is so loudly themselves, that you feel like you can be loudly yourself, too?
Maybe I needed to lose Brooke to realize how much I miss her, and maybe I needed to miss her to realize this: I need to be that friend for myself. I need to show myself the same kind of loyalty that she showed me, and push for my best version when it’s not shining through. I need to protect myself from those who aren’t for me, as I think Brooke tried to do. I need to be fearlessly myself on my own. I needed to gain and lose a friendship like this to understand.
I don’t know why or how Brooke would ever see this, but Brooke if you’re reading this, I’m sorry, and thank you. I hope you are still this person for yourself and those around you, and I am so thankful for the lesson you’ve taught me just through being you. Thank you.