One writer shares the way in which she opened up to her closest friends.

By Candice Carty-Williams
Updated May 10, 2019
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No Apologies: For Being Vulnerable
Credit: Anne Bentley

I’m about to turn 30. I’ve known my closest group of friends since we were 18, but it was only this year that I was able to tell them how I actually feel when guys (inconsequential ones, usually) mess me around.

These close friends—there are four of them, all excellent, woke white girls—and I talk to each other most days, but I threw them together into one group chat because we realized we were all just repeating ourselves by telling each other the same thing. In one digitally encrypted place, we talk about delayed trains, work woes, forgotten packed lunches, you name it. No subject is too mundane for the five of us. Nothing is off-limits either. We message about what kind of contraceptive methods are working best and discuss the best day in our menstrual cycles to use Thinx absorbent underwear. We spend hours texting about relationship breaks and breakups, and an obscene amount of time is spent tapping our thumbs frantically on our screens when it comes to bad dates and worse sex. You’re getting the picture: The floor is open.

We love to talk about everything. I don’t mind sharing my dating horror stories with anybody, let alone my closest friends. But when it came to how these encounters were really affecting me, I was completely, flat-out lying to my four closest friends. They had always allowed me to be myself. But I also wanted to be the strong black girl. That meant hiding how bad I felt.

After a particularly shocking string of events with a friend of a friend I met last year, when asked what the latest update was, I quickly explained that I’d blocked him and would need one of them to hide me when we inevitably saw him out again. “Hahahaaaa don’t worry though, is what it is! Ha!” I typed out, my face dead straight, no trace of laughter on my lips.

The next day, I took my phone out of my pocket and composed another message. “Hi girls. I actually feel really bad. I know I might seem like I can handle stuff , but actually every time a man makes me feel worthless and pointless, it just erodes my sense of who I am.” I took a deep breath and sent it. For the first time, I was honest. Within seconds, all four had replied with messages of love and support, with fierce, allied anger and threats of turning up at his house. If I’d known this would be the result, I might have been a different person by now. One less full of anguish and shame and sadness, maybe. But now that I know how good it feels to be open, to be vulnerable, to talk about the difficult subjects with as much ease as I talk about bikini waxing, life feels a whole lot fuller.

Candice Carty-Williams is the author of the novel Queenie ($16;