I know I’m not the only person out there that has loved and lost. No, this isn’t about romantic love, but friendship. So many people think that romantic heartbreak is the only true heartbreak that can break a person down, but I can say without a doubt that losing a friend can hurt just as much.
When I was just in elementary school, my best friend suddenly stopped talking to me one day with no explanation. Little did I know, this was going to happen more than once in my life. I guess this first instance was a way of preparation. In this case, it was because of my mom and the fire. Her parents suddenly didn’t want her associated with my family, because despite the fact my mom had been proven innocent, people like them still existed (and do still) who believed she was guilty.
In high school, casualties of friendship surpassed the typical teenage drama we all hear about. Throughout my 4 years, I was told to kill myself a ridiculous amount of times; I was harassed, mostly by boys who were angry I wouldn’t give myself up to them and girls who thought they knew everything about me. Rumors spread about body parts that those boys hadn’t even seen or touched because I knew better. And when the day did come that I trusted someone enough to have sex with them, as soon as that relationship ended, they spread disgusting rumors out of anger. More than once, girls I thought were my friends listened to those rumors and did nothing to defend me. Instead, they carved their names on my heart with the knife they buried in my back.
I spent hours upon hours every night sitting outside my house in high school, wondering if my life was ever going to change. I would take extremely long walks alone, getting used to the solitude. But no one knew the extent of what I was dealing with, because no one tried to find out.
When the day came that an ex raised his hand to hit me in front of the whole school, I realized the truth. The truth further pounded into my brain when a boy flipped my books over on top of me in the middle of lunch, and only one true friend stood up and nearly fought him because of it. I realized I was mostly on my own, and I was just going to have to accept that.
The problem with that realization is that I have always trusted too hard, too fast. I bond quickly with people I meet, and I let them in when I should know better. I forgave lies and betrayals repeatedly throughout high school, and actually seemed surprised when they would slash their way through me once again. For a couple of years, I even cut my wrist just to see a physical representation of the pain I was feeling internally. If I noticed someone had also been cutting, instead of reacting with disgust or horror, I just understood. We were all in a silent club.
When I left high school, I made it a point to go to a college where barely anyone I knew would be going. I wanted to close that chapter of my life. The chapter where cops were called to intervene on the harassment being done against me my senior year. Where a girl told me during my freshman year that she would kill me the next time she saw me because I told the truth about her stealing someone else’s property then trying to blame it on my friend. Where my own principal knew how terribly I was being treated that he let me pick what day I stayed home instead of suspending me for a week when an ex stalked me all evening, unsurprisingly ending in a fight. Where the day I picked was because yet another person who wanted me dead spent the morning making horrible remarks about me to my face and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Where people would send me text after text telling me that no one would miss me if I were gone. I wanted to slam that chapter closed and burn all of the pages.
I thought that going to college would be better. It was, but not by much.
I forged friendships that resulted in nothing but pain. Invested years of my life into these people who were supposed to be there for me, expected me to be there for them, but really weren’t.
Even after leaving college, it continued. People angry I couldn’t hang out every week, people angry I had an annuity in my name from my brother dying in a fire and being in foster care for a year, people angry I got a new car, people angry I was getting married, people angry when I was sad. I was called selfish every time, as if working towards my own happiness was something I should be ashamed of. I could only stretch myself so far.
I lost friends when my mom died. Yes, you read that right. People who couldn’t handle my sad status updates and anger episodes. To them, I say sorry that their lives were so filled with joy that it was offensive to them for me to talk about my dead mother. It must have been so hard to read my posts about missing her.
And so the long list of betrayals continued. Hacking away at my willingness to seek friendship. At 25 years old, I’ve reached a point where if someone doesn’t make an active effort to be a true friend to me, I stop trying. When you’ve suffered as much pain as I have from people you cared about, you get tired of it.
To say that I am fed up and angry is an understatement. I can count the people on one hand who truly know the emotional damage I have been dealing with my entire life. To those people, I say I love and thank you. For you have been the only ones to show me that it’s not always pain. That people don’t always hurt you, even though it happens more often than not.
I did manage to mold a true relationship with a few people in my years so far, but with my track record, I don’t think I would be all that surprised if something happened to damage those few too. I remember moments in my life where I thought I was just caught in a bad dream, and surely I was going to wake up soon and have friends who wanted to help me by my side. I slumbered on through middle school, high school, and college.
It wasn’t until meeting my husband that I awakened. Despite all of the horror that had been my life, he was the ray of sunlight shining on my face in early morning, forcing me to open my eyes and smile. Truly, smile. He is what kept me going those first couple of years after my mom died. He made me eat, he made me get out of bed, he helped me laugh. And he still does.
I am thankful to have the few people in my life now that I know do truly care. I worked hard, for a very long time, to get to this point of happiness in my life surrounded by those select few that I trust. These people don’t need to be named-they know who they are.
If someone had told my 16 year old self that I would be this happy today, I wouldn’t have believed them. I was finally able to pull that rusted knife out from between my shoulder blades and toss it aside.