She's my husband's ex-fiancée.
She's also one of my closest friends.
I should start at the beginning somewhere...
I met John in college, just as he was coming off a terrible break-up with Faith. In fact, I found out he'd broken up with her as he chucked his cell phone halfway down the hall in disgust. Go figure.
In the coming months, I'd hear about her in passing - much the same as anyone hears of their significant other's ex, I guess. By the time John and I started dating a few months later, he'd gotten rid of most photos that he'd had of her. That didn't stop me from looking, though.
I'll be honest. It wasn't my proudest of moments, but I definitely went "psycho girlfriend" and tore through his bedroom one day looking for any shred of evidence she existed. After all, she wasn't just a girlfriend... she was a FIANCEE, and that was a dangerous title to have lingering around when you've got your sights set on marrying the guy.
So yes, I went tearing through his stuff in order to find a photo to console myself that at the very least I was prettier than her.
Terrible, TERRIBLE move on my part. I found a photo of her. Of course I did. I wasn't gonna stop until I did! He must've forgotten it was tucked away in a drawer, but I found it, and she was GORGEOUS. Her hair was all done up, she had her adorable "I'm Faith, and everything is wonderful in the world" smile glowing, and she was wearing one of her typical "I can wear anything and somehow pull it off amazingly" outfits. Looking at that photo immediately made me regret my decision to go snooping. Of COURSE he'd wanted to marry her. Look at her! She's freakin' adorable. She's textbook definition of "cute as a button" and I could tell that her personality matched.
At this point, I hadn't met her. All I knew about her was that she looked like Snow White, part of the group disliked her, she betrayed John, and she was currently hanging out with some loser.
That didn't stop me from feeling the flames of competition. About a year into our relationship, I found out Faith was going to be at a common event amongst our friends. I, the "new girl" had been readily accepted into the group of friends - her friends - without question. I was "one of the guys" and everyone loved me. That wasn't' enough, though. I wanted to be loved more than Faith. I wanted to be better friends with the group than her. I wanted to prove to John, through his friends, that he had made the right decision and that this Faith chick needed to be kicked to the curb forever.
Terrible, I know. There's a happy ending in here somewhere, I promise.
Anyway, we met at a college party. I was nice to her - sweetly so. I wasn't going to let on that I would simply "out-nice" her and again be seen as everyone's favorite darling. I was even complemented on how well I handled meeting the ex... especially when she made herself at home dancing too close to John on a few occasions. I didn't let on, though. I wasn't going to let a thing like exposed jealousy taint my image as the confident, lovable girlfriend. Instead, I went right along with the charade and gained brownie points with everyone there due to my relaxed, fun and level-headed charm.
This charade went on for months. We'd meet up, I'd be nice on the surface, secretly seething, and then I'd make tiny comments to John later. Small, innocuous comments that would slowly but surely add up to him agreeing that she wasn't worth spending time with.
Ugh. Just thinking about this makes me cringe. Being honest about the past, however, makes you that much more aware and appreciative of the present, and so, bear with me.
Just before John and I got married, things somehow changed. I wish I could remember the catalyst. For the life of me, though, I can't! All I remember is sitting in John's car talking about her. I don't know how she came up, and I don't remember what it was that we were talking about. All I know is that during the course of that conversation, I went from intensely disliking her to feeling a true spark of compassion for her. It wasn't pity, and it wasn't "Oh... poor Faith." It was more like, "Aww... that's so sweet. This is the first time I've even considered the fact that she's a decent human being, and not only do I think she's decent, I think she's just about the sweetest person ever!"
See why I'm so frustrated over the fact that I can't remember what, exactly, made her the sweetest person ever? Chances are you're just as curious as me (and now Faith as she undoubtedly reads this).
I've already asked John. He doesn't remember either. Boo.
Anyway, at the moment the realization hit me, I actually said to John, "You realize I'm probably going to try to make her one of my best friends now, right?"
The change was THAT instantaneous.
However, just because my heart had changed towards Faith didn't mean my actions did all at once. I wasn't sure what to do with my new-found affection for her. It felt awkward and bashful. I had a lot of pent up guilt for having been such a jerk to her; I almost went overboard trying to quietly overcompensate for my previous mistakes.
Little by little, though, I found my footing with her. Little by little we managed to work around our rough edges, slowly but surely smoothing them out until they became forgotten vestiges of a history that didn't belong to us. Slowly we began to reach out towards one another, no longer afraid of imagined threats, but looking forward to trusted support and adventure.
Somehow, we became friends.
I was talking about how I missed the fact that my friendship with him died alongside our relationship. He had been my best friend. It didn't seem fair that the friendship had to die just because we couldn't work as a couple. It turns out John felt the same pang of loneliness for the friendship he had had with Faith. He, too, missed the fun and joy she brought, and in that moment, I realized that my selfish, arrogant and jealous actions had caused John to miss out on Faith. I realized it had also caused ME to miss out on her, too. If John was able to see so much good in her, obviously she had something special to offer.
The same as I wanted John to see the good in Henry (and truth be told, Frank), I realized he wanted desperately for me to see the good in Faith. That was the moment my heart melted into my shoes and I readily accepted Faith as someone my husband deeply cherished. Just as John would never need to feel threatened by Henry or Frank, I knew I'd never need to feel threatened by her.
And thus began the blossoming of a real friendship. I think Faith reached a mature decision about me before I did about her (I'm ashamed to say), but I'm glad she stuck it out long enough for me to come to my senses. She didn't turn me away when I began testing the waters with her. She didn't shut me out as she had every right to do. She accepted my attempts at friendship because that's simply who she is - a wonderful person with a big heart. I don't think it's in her to turn love away. She really is too sweet of a person. :)
In all honesty, she made it easy. She's such an open, trusting person. She never hesitated to share things with me. She never hesitated to include me on stories or updates on even the most random things.
As such, I began to really appreciate and understand her as a person. I think our relationship has forced me to really grow in a lot of ways precisely because of how wrong I was when I first met her. Plus, she's opened my world to so many ridiculous and wonderful things that I'd otherwise be without.
Jewerly-making? That's her fault. Sewing? Also her fault. Terrible sense of humor? Eh... toss up between her and John. For the sake of this entry, though, let's blame her.
These last few months, I've really, REALLY grown to appreciate our friendship. Every time we hang out, even if it's briefly, I feel better. I look forward to seeing her. I look forward to hanging out. I get a real thrill from the jolt of love and positivity we seem to dose one another with. Even if we're both complaining about everything that's going on in our lives, we tend to have a good laugh and console ourselves with adventure.
She's a real blessing in my life. I'm incredibly lucky God smacked some sense into me and forced me to realize what a gem she is. I've got a lot of incredibly wonderful people in my life. Faith is most certainly one of the best.
So that, folks, is our story. Friendship found in the most impossible of places. However, when you consent to open the door - for even a moment - the power of love can do amazing things. It really, really can. :)
"I'm glad you're ashamed of yourself! You should be for how you treated that poor girl. No way would I be so willing to accept such a snake into my heart. You should be on your knees thanking God every day that she didn't trample you underfoot, or that your husband didn't leave you in spite of yourself."
Meh. True on all counts. And I do realize how lucky I am for being given a second chance after being so terribly childish to her early on. What can I say? She's a better person than I am - it's why I wanted so much to befriend her upon realizing it! :)