I’ve got a little angel on my shoulder.
She emerged from the shadows a few days ago, alerting me by Facebook Messenger that I had a typo in a blog post. The next day, she returned, telling me that I had forgotten a “T” in it.
“Damn,” I thought. “She’s good. I didn’t even see that.”
She told me she’d understand if I want her to stop, but I don’t. She’s looking out for me. I didn’t ask for her help, but she’s giving it. What kind of fool would turn that down?
It’s rare to find people who are pulling for you in this dog eat dog world, but sometimes they emerge out of nowhere. My angel used to work at the same newspaper group that I did, though we never worked together. I met her at a newspaper reunion several years ago, and we struck up a conversation about insomnia. We became Facebook friends, and she’s become one of my most faithful blog followers.
I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve my angel’s unwavering support, but I’ll take it and I’ll run with it if you don’t mind. It’s rare for women to be so encouraging and supportive of other women’s creative endeavors. I’m sorry if that sounds jaded, but I’ve been on the receiving end of mean girls over the years. When I find a really kind girl who wants me to succeed, I’m going to shout about it from the rooftops.
I think we all have a mean girl or two in our past (or present) – those who seem to dislike or alienate us for no apparent reason. Women are especially unforgiving and bizarre in friendships. One day, you’re best buddies, while the next you’re no longer speaking – and you don’t even know why.
The things we get annoyed about with our friends could fill a book: she calls too much; she doesn’t call enough; she only calls when she needs something; she never comes up for air; she only talks about herself and never asks about me; I feel like I’m her therapist; how dare she cancel on me at the last minute? Well, isn’t that nice she’s going to lunch with that friend. She never does that with me.
I don’t know why it’s so hard for women to discuss our annoyances with friends, but it is. Oh, we tell other friends what’s driving us crazy about them, but we won’t tell them to their face. And often, you reach a point where it’s just easier to drop them (or be dropped) than work things out.
I have been a not so great friend at times. This happens when I’m feeling overloaded in my personal life, and resent the demands of friendship. Instead of owning up to my feelings, I withdraw. My friend and I stop speaking, making both of us unhappy. The relationship becomes strained, and sometimes breaks.
I’ve been fortunate to have some very understanding friends (and sisters) who love me in spite of my mistakes. They’ve accepted my apologies, and we’ve moved on. I have other friends who I never talk to because they’re unwilling or too proud to forgive. About the only thing you can say to people sometimes is “I’m sorry.” We tell kids to say it when they hurt their friends, but won’t do it ourselves.
Just like no means no, sorry means sorry. You can’t say “I’m sorry but.” The Curmudgeon has tried this with me and it drives me crazy. “Just stop at sorry. Just stop at sorry, OK?”
I’m not going to name my angel because that would truly embarrass her. But I appreciate her wanting the best for me, and going out of her way to help me. She is sort of a guardian angel, keeping watch over my writing so I don’t make a fool out of myself. She’s my virtual safety net as I dance on Blogging Central’s high wire.
What’s your take on guardian angels? I believed I had a guardian angel as a young girl, knowing that someone or something was looking out for me in the world. But I forgot about my angel as I grew up, dismissing it as fantasy along with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.
But religious folks I know – and I know many – tell me that guardian angels are very real. In one chapel I frequent, six carved angels preside over the altar. A Dominican nun told me that angels are present, but will only come to your aid if called upon.
“They’ll only help you if you believe and ask,” a nun recently told me.
So this has been my problem all these years. I’ve neglected angels in my midst. That explains everything.
Though I have no proof angels exist, I did find a silver religious token several months ago that read, “You are protected by angels.” Perhaps this foreshadowed my editing angel. I will never know for sure.
What surprises me most about my editing angel is her willingness to help me without expecting anything in return. She could say nothing and silently joke about my editing shortcomings, but she’s there. I think we all need a few angels like her in our lives.
Several years ago, I left one newspaper for a chain of weeklies. I needed a change, and it paid a lot more. Besides, I had the chance to start a new weekly. I worked my tail off on the first issue, and was proud of the result. But I was crestfallen to learn a woman I had worked with, and who had come to my wedding, had taken out a red grease pencil and tore my work to shreds.
Someone told me about it, and it hurt. Did doing that make her feel better? And why did she feel the need to cut me down? I liked her, and we were colleagues for five years. That really put me on notice that people can turn on you the instant you walk out the door.
Women need to pull for each other more, or if you’ll excuse the expression, “lean in.” We’re all in this together, so let’s help each other out and work together.
This came up a few days ago during a conversation with my 16-year-old daughter, who runs track for her high school team. She was assigned a teammate and the two were supposed to pace each other. Pacing means staying together, working as a unit.
The girl was supposed to stay with my daughter, but spent the entire practice running ahead of her. My daughter arrived home angry and confused. Why was her teammate so intent on beating her in a practice?
I sadly told my daughter that this is often the case with women, particularly in sports. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE to win. But I’m not going to step over people or cheat to do it. And if I lose, so be it. It’s not the first time, and certainly won’t be the last.
Sometimes, you win when you see that little “1” in your Facebook Messenger, and notice your editing angel spotted a mistake. Sometimes you win when you finish a road race, and help others over the finish line. You certainly win when you pull for another person and wish her success instead of failure. And you definitely win when you pace someone, and stay with her instead of leaving her in your dust.