I haven’t watched last week’s episode of the TV show I’m currently on, Blood Sweat and Heels. I had a digital copy of the episode before I boarded a plane at JFK Airport on an international flight last week. I haven’t seen the episode because I don’t want to.
Let me explain: This season has been … challenging. A month before our wedding, my now-husband, Greg, had a falling-out with my good friend and cast mate, Geneva S. Thomas. I spent several months trying to play the middle between my then-fiance and my good friend, respecting my soon-to-be spouse and attempting to hold on to a friendship with someone I hold dear. It was not a fun position.
Geneva and I are not best friends. That distinction belongs to a woman I met when I was 12, whom I went to junior high school with and who sat next to me at my wedding reception (I didn’t have bridesmaids or a matron of honor). But Geneva is the type of friend who answers when I call at any hour and who will sit on the phone with me and commiserate when I’m hurt or scared or angry. That matters.
In case you missed it, the drama unfolded this way: I had a book signing to launch my latest book, Don’t Waste Your Pretty. Geneva invited a friend, a recent addition to the cast. The friend was disruptive while I was taking questions from a rapt audience. She had been asked to quiet down multiple times and refused.
When she became increasingly loud—more likely from a desire to get additional camera time than from being overserved at the open bar—Greg intervened. Geneva had said nothing about her friend’s behavior until my fiance stepped up and asked a security guard to have the disruptive woman escorted out. It was then that Geneva spoke out, much to Greg’s chagrin. I was on a stage promoting my book and only learned the details secondhand. What I heard were similar stories with vastly differing perspectives from my fiance and my friend.
Greg said that Geneva was disrespectful for interfering when he was addressing the situation. Geneva thought my fiance was “doing too much,” and said she would stand up for anyone she had invited to an event who was being kicked out. She didn’t feel that she was in the wrong, but she apologized the next morning in case I had any hard feelings. I accepted her apology. Given who my cast mates are, things could have been much worse.
Based on the versions I heard, I thought my fiance and my friend were both right. But having to choose between the two? I read where one of my cast mates said, “I would laugh in my man’s face if he tried to disinvite my best friend from my wedding.” That comment explains a lot about why she is perpetually single and can’t maintain a healthy relationship.
I watched my parents, who have been married “forever,” and I watched The Godfather: You never speak publicly against the family. When I said yes to my husband’s proposal, I was agreeing to be his partner in this thing called life. If I wasn’t willing to stand by him—right or wrong, at least in public—then I wouldn’t be acting like the wife I was hoping to be.
Let me be clear: My ultimate loyalty is to my husband over any friend. Like Rodney King, I want everyone to “just get along,” but when there is a conflict, my husband’s feelings take precedence. That’s just how this wife thing works.
Behind closed doors, Greg and I had many conversations about his desire not to have Geneva at our wedding. Note the “our.” I wasn’t standing at the altar by myself.
Eventually I was able to get him to see enough of my perspective that he changed his mind. Unfortunately, this came after Geneva had vented her frustration about this situation to her actual best friend, in front of other people and on camera.
I got the story secondhand that she called Greg “bitch-made” and me a “bitch.” It hurt to hear about it.
I maintained a straight face on camera to avoid making an already bad situation worse. I had many choice words later on and spoke to Greg when the cameras were no longer rolling.
We were mad. There was a part of me that wanted to go full “Petty LaBelle” to even the score. What stopped me—other than two large cameras in my face and a mic on my back that would preserve the moment in perpetuity? It was T.D. Jakes.
I watched some special on the Oprah Winfrey Network that he was on once. In the audience, there were two sisters seeking his counsel. They were either just over 30 or pushing it, and they hadn’t spoken in years over something like the younger sister stole the elder’s boyfriend while they were in high school.
Jakes’ advice to them was something like, “Think of all the memories you haven’t shared, the secrets you didn’t tell and the stories you don’t have” over something so insignificant.
That OWN episode was like Shug Avery’s “God is trying to tell you something (right now)” moment. It taught me to choose my battles with my friends. They are not perfect. Neither am I. They do screw up. I am certainly no saint. I try to give people the understanding I want them to give me.
So yeah, some things I don’t like. Some things make me cringe. Some things I wish could be taken back. Some things just aren’t worth going to battle over. Some things just doesn’t matter in the grand scheme.
So I bit my tongue. And when I cooled down, Geneva, Greg and I had a long phone call—off camera—to sort out a situation that had gone too far for all of us.
We all wanted to move on. Each of us had to step up and admit that we didn’t always make the best decisions but that we needed to give to others the wiggle room to be imperfect and be forgiven, the same way we wanted for ourselves. I think it helped, too, that we were all tired of fighting and accusing and speculating (and dealing with producers’ meddling) and just wanted some dang peace again.
My husband and my girl still don’t see eye to eye on what occurred at my book signing. However, they do agree that there was no malicious intent. Geneva was never disinvited from our wedding, but after a lot of communication, compassion and, really, a team effort from all three of us biting the bullet to resolve the situation, her seat at the table was finally reconfirmed for good.
So that’s that, and on to the next chapter. Together. Over wine. We all prefer rosé.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. Follow her on Twitter.