Too Thrifty Chicks


Through Reese’s Eyes: The Other Side of Hardship


Ricks: Good morning. I scheduled a post.

Reese: I saw it. I’m teary-eyed in my car, girl. I’m so proud to call you friend and soulmate. Supporting you during the hard time was one of the most challenging things ever but also one of the most rewarding.

Ricks: So happy to have you. I want you to write transparently about your struggle helping me.

Reese: ::crickets::

When Ricks asked me to write this post, I thought, the best way to tell the story is through how I captured my feelings at the times I felt them. My journal, perhaps the place I am most candid, honest, and raw, holds those moments, some of which I will share with you, starting from the day I knew she would either quit or leave her job before she even told me.

25 May 2013: My roommate’s very close to losing her job, not because she doesn’t have the necessary skills, but because the passion isn’t there. Nor is there a desire to just lay down and give into the demands of people who believe she is expendable. Universe, you have shown and taught her much this year: the tools and steps to get out debt, the power of assertiveness, the value of righteous rage, the promises that lie in “be still and know that i am god.” I believe with all my heart that none of this is accidental. I feel in my spirit that things might get rougher before they get better but all things work together for good. The whole universe is conspiring on her behalf…thank you for the honor, privilege, and responsibility of being a friend, prayer partner, helping hand, and listener. My prayer is that if there is anything I can do during this time, that it be revealed to me. If I should pray more, fast, talk less, listen better, I’m down. I am part of the universe. I’m part of all the universe that is conspiring for all the desires of her heart to come to pass, and I’m excited about that…In the meantime, may there always be a praise and in the times where things feel too heavy for a praise to spring forth from her bosom, please accept mine on her behalf.

….and as with many things, a honeymoon phase followed. Ricks was pumped. I was excited and ready to do whatever it took to make it work. Then, after a particularly bad experience with freelancing, it all started to tumble.

27 February 2014: Today I came home to Ricks still sleeping. I try not to be bothered by it, but I am. I don’t get to sleep in. I don’t get to linger in bed as long as I want. I know that is not compassionate. I guess I feel like her sleeping in is inconsiderate, especially since a while ago she said she’d get up when I get up. That doesn’t happen. But if the tables were turned, would I do anything differently? I’m not sure. More days than not, I think she is wasting time. All talk and little action. This is the same person whose work ethic I valued a year ago. Funny how quickly our perceptions change. It’s all situational. None of us are a simple reflection of our current positions. Me getting up earlier, going to work doesn’t make me a better person than she is. And I certainly don’t know how this process feels on the inside of her. Today I pray that survival mode transitions into thriving mode-for her and for me. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a giver. I don’t know how much more I can take though, to be honest. But I believe the universe is teaching and changing us through this process. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes we both cry because we have no idea what to do and we’re afaid this process is tearing us apart. Sometimes I carry resentment and regret. But there have been opportunities to get us out the fire, and nothing has come through. That must mean you’re not done teaching us in this phase. I pray that i am a receptive student and that I show compassion to my classmate.

…and there was prayer.

2 March 2014: People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soulmate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soulmate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. -Elizabeth Gilbert

Thank you for my current soulmate. This has been a rough period of tearing down walls and smacking each other awake. It has been hard and it hurts. I feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Today, I feel like this current phase of our collective life will end soon. Praise god. Today I face the hard truth that even if someone cannot continue the journey with me, the journey must still continue. I must still press on. My physical, emotional and spiritual well being are my own responsibility not anyone else’s. Ricks reminds me of that every day. I have to do the work with or without her. For almost two years god has blessed me with her guidance, love and friendship. I have focused so much on the future and what I could potentially lose, but today I give thanks for what I have: a soulmate who shows me my reflection-the good, bad and ugly. The ugly isn’t so easy to take but it’s all part of me. Thank you for her life. These last eight months have been hard on her. I pray joy returns. For laughter to abound. I pray for something so big and undeniably orchestrated by the universe to happen. Something so big it restores her faith. And when it happens, I pray my own heart is filled with joy and gratitude.
…and more prayer.
2 July 2014: It is really difficult to watch someone you love struggle. Markeshia didn’t get the job and naturally she’s disappointed. She cried last night as we went for a long, aimless drive. I had to reign myself in from trying to be the savior. I didn’t say–hey just move to memphis with me, although I wanted to. I did say she can come stay as long as she wants. Part of me feels like this process is hers to navigate. She has to do this on her own, but with cheerleaders and support. After she interviewed for the job, I could tell she wasn’t excited. and I wasn’t sure if the job fit her skills or credentials. But last night, none of that mattered. I was angry with god and frustrated that s/he did not provide. But a small voice reminded me that s/he is always providing, even now. so I wanted to be angry because someone I love, my favorite person, is hurting and sad. But there is benefit to struggle. This road isn’t easy but it’s worth it. The fact that after she found out she said, “I hope the person who got it has a really good year,” speaks to her integrity, growth, and character. This year of struggle has been worth it. Now, god bless her with a job to match her faithfulness in her self-growth pursuits. Amen.

…and thanksgiving.

27 August 2014: I am alone in this new place for the first time since I arrived in Memphis. I’m grateful, sad, hopeful, content. Ricks is at the airport soon to board the plane. I want to write a blog post, but not sure I have the right words. I’ll miss her fiercely. This time we can’t whine and say, “I’m so ready to come home” when we’ve been too long apart. But I am grateful for this time we both need. I have nothing else to write today except thank you universe for trusting us with friendship. Bless her. Keep her. Amen.

I am unwavering in my belief that the support I gave–financially, spiritually, and emotionally–was the right thing to do. But it was hard. It required significant alterations in my lifestyle, even though I wasn’t the one who quit my job (taking on a third roommate, for example).Sometimes it was hurtful.  I’m sure most of you cannot even fathom Ricks and me arguing or not speaking to each other or not being comfortable with the silence between us. If someone had asked me a year prior, I wouldn’t have imagined it either. Yet those things, and many others that I’m sure we will bury between the two of us, happened. Watching my favorite person experience depression happened. Feeling completely frustrated by what I perceived to be a lack of effort towards building the dream she wanted so badly happened. Shouldering resentment and feelings of being taken advantage of happened.

Yet, somehow, the faith I had (have) in her, her dreams, and abilities remained steadfast, albeit bruised. I always thought I was really good at keeping enough distance from people’s problems so as not to make them my own. And I was. Until they were on my doorstep, in the kitchen, on the couch everyday.  I knew her potential and every day I saw it threatened. So I kept throwing rope down into the pit where she was…until I ran out of rope. I saw in myself something I knew wasn’t helpful in the long run: I was sometimes helping too much. Sometimes, I overextended myself to try to bring some type of normalcy and joy that I sorely missed. But with that, I also felt like she owed me something for accommodating her hardships (hard to type…something I am not particularly proud of).

I found myself at a crossroad: do I jump down and see what I can do in the trenches with her or do I trust that she will figure out a way to bridge the gap between the rope and where she is? Quite honestly, a lot of this was resolved simply because, I too, reached an “enough” point, and I had little left to offer. Whatever happened in her life, it would have to happen on her own accord or with the help of others. Being her sole confidant during that period was heavy. And one day, I had to put it down.

If we’re lucky, we are given opportunities to support people; to grow in our understandings of partnership and unconditional love. But with that luck sometimes comes hard moments, harsh realities, and shifting perspectives of who we (or the ones we love) are. I didn’t always understand her experiences, so I lashed out. I yelled when i didn’t think I was being heard. I, at times, accused my friend, my family, of seeing me as nothing more than a way to keep a roof over her head.  I am convinced that our relationships sometimes call for sacrifice but never for losing ourselves. Perhaps I’ll do a separate post on this later, but one of the things that helped me tremendously was art therapy. During the roughest period, it is one of the few self-care practices I maintained. And I’m glad I did. Since art therapy is built on multiple modes of expression, I sometimes drew, collaged, or painted my way through my feelings. I’m thoroughly convinced that therapy plus making some time to do other things on my own are what kept me afloat.

Sometimes I managed the balance between caring for myself and for my partner-in-crime well. Other times not so much. It’s a delicate balance. I am SO thankful we’re on the other side. We are much better humans on this side of struggle. I am much more rooted in my convictions of what it means to be “ride-or-die” while still caring for myself. And if (should I say when?) we hit another rough period in our lives, we have a written record that proves we know how to make it through.

Author: A. Reese

UMBC Assistant Professor. Black Feminist. Food justice advocate and researcher. Lover of color, ruffles, stripes, and pockets. Your kids' flyest professor.

5 thoughts on “Through Reese’s Eyes: The Other Side of Hardship

  1. As I sit here trying to formulate the right words to express my thoughts/feelings, I can’t help but consistently feel so grateful to have you in my life. I never would have dreamed that after just ONE graduate class at GW several years ago that we would be friends? I’m so utterly grateful to have you in my life Reese, that you’ve made the efforts to reach out and stay connected. You inspire me in so many ways and I don’t think I could ever truly express the wisdom and strength you have provided me.

    This post with direct thoughts from your journal has been life changing. A lot of what you expressed are emotions and feelings that I’ve felt and then judged myself for feeling that way rather than accepting that I am not perfect and am human. It’s okay to have those emotions, but what I think is more important is what we do with those emotions. Thank you for being so open and sharing some of your deepest thoughts and that hardships that your friendship with Ricks has seen. I find it much more helpful and admirable for you both to share that life isn’t always peachy all the time.

    Long comment but I end with this – Thank you both for being life changers 🙂


    • thank you for sharing, Christina. Sometimes it’s hard to to share the not-so-glamorous stuff, but it’s also important. Like you said, we’re human. We aren’t perfect, and on our blog, we hope to share as much of that humanness as possible. Love you, girl! ❤


    • Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us, Christina. You’re pretty inspirational yourself and I’ve learned a lot from the little I know of your journey.


  2. That was so beautifully honest, thoughtful and inspiring. It brought me to tears. True friendship teaches us so much about love. Thank you for sharing your heart on this post. God Bless sisterhood.


  3. You will not have me in tears today…ok yes you will. We often only see one side of hardship. Thank you for sharing the “other side”. The was a beautifully written article. I would love to hear more. Love Yous!!!!


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