I Forgive You, I Forgive Me

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Photo Credit: http://alexandrasophie.deviantart.com/art/Random-169903212
I Forgive You, I Forgive Me
A letter to a former friend.

Dear friend,

In all honesty, things hadn’t been right between us for a long time. From the moment we met, I was captivated by your fearlessness. You took charge, spoke your absolutely brilliant mind, and stuck up for what you believed in. You made me believe in you. I believed you would have my back, that you would be on my side (even though I couldn’t always stand there myself). I believed I could learn from you how to be fearless and embrace my complete self. You had a way of making me feel like I could take on the whole world.

Until you didn’t.

I know you never meant to hurt anyone (though you didn’t intend to love them either), so I never said anything to you. But sometimes you would say things that were really hurtful, mean, and unfair. About me. About our mutual friends. About anyone and everyone. I never called you out on it. I never told you how much the things you would say hurt me. Honestly, I was afraid my feelings wouldn’t matter to you. You were a fan of excuses, and you used excuses often to explain away your socially unacceptable behavior. I don’t accept excuses, especially any excusing treating your friends like shit, so I just kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to fight with you. I was afraid of the confrontation.

But keeping quiet only made me resentful.

I started to feel like my feelings didn’t matter to you. I have a long history of my feelings being invalidated by the people I care about. This probably has more to do with my tendency to care about people who might as well be allergic to feelings in general, and if I’m being honest, feelings terrify and repulse me too. I’m very sensitive. I feel things more deeply than most people. I always have, and I probably always will. It’s part of who I am, but it’s a part of me I’ve never liked which makes me naturally drawn to people who are equally as opposed to my oversensitivity. Like attracts like, you know. Or in this case, dislike. I started to feel like you were another person I was bonding with over an unhealthy dislike.

This belief was confirmed the few times I tried to discuss my feelings with you. I don’t think you ever meant to invalidate my feelings, and I know it wasn’t your intention to hurt me. But you did, and so I tried to convince myself I didn’t have a right to feel. I started to deny my feelings. And as a person who feels deeply, this was a dangerous thing for me to do.

I’ve found in my life that every time I repress my feelings, an outlet appears for me to express them. Usually that outlet is a person with enough issues to distract me from my own. Just when my world starts crumbling around me, and I’m about to break down and allow myself to feel, someone equally damaged shows up to distract me from feeling.

You became one of those people.

I helped you end your miserable relationship with your first boyfriend, and then I started drinking with you. Technically, it wasn’t my first time drinking, but there is a difference between drinking moderately with close friends in private and drinking excessively with strangers in public, even if there are close friends present too. I didn’t tell you how uncomfortable I was with all the bar-hopping and late nights spent drinking for all the wrong reasons. I also didn’t tell you everything I was repressing. The stress from making my first ever B in English, applying to schools I didn’t truly want to attend, pursuing a future I didn’t want for myself, quitting my job, not being able to go back to camp, being single for so long, my grandfather’s illness…the list goes on. I was torturing myself with all the feelings I was repressing, and honestly the drinking and your issues were a destructive distraction.

When you left for California, I panicked. Everyone was gone, and I was left without a distraction. I was faced with the difficult choice of confronting my feelings (alone) or finding another distraction.

I chose the distraction, and fell into a hopeless pursual of the flirty guy friend we had been hanging out with a lot recently. You and our mutual friends had been pushing me toward him for months, but I honestly wasn’t interested in being  anything more than his friend. I didn’t like that he kept so many secrets. I didn’t trust him. He was also openly opposed to feelings. I knew pursuing a relationship with him would be pointless and utterly destructive to my well-being.

But with everyone else gone, I was too desperate for an escape to care.

While intoxicated, he confessed his feelings for me, led me to believe a relationship was possible, gave me an opening to my favorite form of escape. If it ended badly (and I was definitely sure that it would), I’d finally have an excuse to feel that made more sense than “I’m scared and have no idea what to do with my life.”

But my distraction ended much sooner than I had expected. As soon as the alcohol disappeared, so did his feelings. He took back everything he said he felt, and left me alone again.

Naturally, I was devastated, though my volcanic eruption of feelings had more to do with another stressful event being added to my pile of repression than the sting of rejection. I was hurt, confused, and alone. 

So you came to my rescue.

You came back early from California and became my outlet, my escape, my destructive distraction. And I became yours as well.

You made it your mission to repair the damage caused by my failed attempt at distraction with our flirty friend. I would have been content to avoid him the entire summer, but you weren’t going to let that happen. The very first morning you arrived from your trip, you drove me to his work and forced me to talk to him. I didn’t realize you had your own agenda for forcing the issue, for wanting him to become a part of our destructive world.

You wanted him to be your distraction too.

When you told me you had feelings for him, I didn’t believe you. I became guilty of invalidating your feelings. I just didn’t find it feasible that you could end a two-and-a-half-year relationship and be ready to jump into another one less than a month later. You didn’t even cry over your former relationship, as far as I knew. I didn’t think it was healthy. But who was I to talk? I was doing the same thing.

We made a pact that day. We would be his friend, welcome him into our circle, make him a regular addition to our late nights and bad habits. If something more developed, we would welcome that too. Something in the tone of your voice as we made the pact didn’t sound right to me. I had an uneasy feeling that you were hiding something from me.

But like I did with all my feelings, I dismissed them and then set out to prove them wrong.

I tried to prove my point in the worst way: I became his friend with benefits.

I have a painful relationship with sex. You knew that. You were the reason I started to confront my issues with sex in the first place. My issues were the same as yours, and we dealt with them the same way: we made sex black-and-white. Either it was an intensely emotional experience, or an event devoid of any emotion at all. Because of our mutual opposition to emotion, we both tended to choose the latter.

My casual-sex relationship with our mutual friend was a disaster. Maybe he’s “closeted” or maybe he just wasn’t interested in me, but every encounter was an epic failure that was only continued out of pity and confusion. I’d never been in this situation before. I didn’t know how to handle it.

I was grateful when you had the conversation to end it for me, but I was far from relieved. By that time, it had started to become obvious to me that you were indeed hiding something from me. I didn’t know what was going on, only that something was and both of you were lying about it. I assumed you were trying to protect my feelings, but the lies hurt a lot more than the truth.

I confronted you several times, and tried to tell you how I was feeling, but my feelings were invalidated every time. My resentment started to grow. I felt like I was walking on eggshells with you, and I was sick of it. I was sick of all the confusion, lies, hiding, and escaping. I wanted to end our friendship much sooner than I did, but we had made plans I couldn’t back out of. I decided to stick it out and try to be your friend for another week.

But that weekend, I got drunk for the first time. Really drunk. I was drinking for both of us because I thought I could handle it a lot better than you could, and I wanted us to get home safe. We walked up and down sixth street for hours, briefly meeting up with an old flame from my past, the part of my past I had kept hidden and didn’t want to revisit. I remember a lot of the night pretty clearly, but most of it comes in vivid flashes that feel more like snippets of a dream. I remember the drive home in a blur of lights, but I don’t remember walking to the car or what was said. I remember crying and telling you about the memories that still haunted me. I remember the old flame calling me and saying he was high on crack, and wondering where we were. I remember you lying in bed with him, and talking to him. I remember you asking me “Why are you ashamed of him? He seems like a good guy.” I remember him taking off my shirt and me asking where you were, and him saying “I don’t know. Maybe she’ll come join us.” and I kept asking where you were, shaking my head, trying not cry, panicking.

You left me alone with him, knowing my state. You left me alone, and in the morning, I woke up naked, dehydrated, and nauseous with a pounding headache. I got in the shower and cried. I felt violated and betrayed, though I didn’t think I had a right to feel that way. I knew I was just as much to blame for the events that transpired that night as anyone else.

But that didn’t make it okay.

And a week later, when we were spending yet another late night in some club with our guy friends, I had finally had enough. I was sober this time, so when the guy I was dancing with started getting too physical, I walked away and asked one of the friends we came with to take me home. I had enough pretending everything was okay when it wasn’t. Enough trying to be your friend, but only feeling like I was constantly sacrificing my feelings for yours. You weren’t going to be there for me, that much was clear, and as much as I cared for you, I couldn’t sacrifice myself for you. 

I didn’t tell you any of this. I didn’t think I could trust you with my feelings, and even if I could, I was much too angry with you to express my feelings constructively. So instead, I blocked your number, deleted you on my social media accounts, and turned everything off. I was done. By the time we finally spoke, you had entered a relationship with the flirty friend you had been hiding feelings for, and I had started working on accepting my feelings instead of repressing them. You wanted to be friends, but I knew I couldn’t do that.

So we went our separate ways.

You didn’t tell the whole story. You kept a lot of things hidden. I did too. But I’m done hiding. You’re not, and that’s okay. I forgive you, but mostly I forgive myself. Everything that happened between us only made me stronger. I’m greater than I was before because of you. Our friendship wasn’t healthy, but that unhealthiness was necessary for my growth. I don’t know if you have grown as well, but from what I hear, you’re still working on your growth, but at least you seem happy. And I’m happy that you are happy, I honestly am.

I realize I was angry because I didn’t understand how you could behave the way you did. In my mind, it wasn’t the way a real friend should behave. But now I know that the world treats you the way you treat yourself, and I couldn’t even treat myself like a real friend. I was expecting you to give me what I couldn’t give myself and that wasn’t fair.

So for that I am sorry. I am sorry that I expected too much from you. I’m sorry I never told you my honest feelings. I’m sorry I couldn’t trust you. I’m sorry I let you make me your escape, and I’m sorry that you became mine as well. I’m sorry our friendship ended the way it did.

But I’m not sorry that I ended our friendship. If I hadn’t, I know I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today. I know I would still be afraid of my feelings, and I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to live with love not fear, and I can’t do that with you.

I wish only the very best for you. I wish you love, and growth, and peace. I wish you the greatest happiness you could ever experience. I wish for all of your dreams to come true. Because despite everything, you are worthy of all that is good. You are worthy of love, real, honest love that brings joy and bliss into every moment of your life. I hope you know this. I hope you have it all.

Thank you for the part you have played in my life. I’m grateful for all the lessons you have taught me. You’ll be in my heart, always.

Best Wishes,


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