“I have been so far from OK that all the money in the world could not have paid for my taxi fare back to OK.” – Me (well, my brain).
It took me a long time to figure out how to put my emotional state of the last few weeks into words. Which is great, because the person who received the message that contained that little analogy hasn’t messaged me for over a month, which left me plenty of time to find those words… and more of them followed.
“But I’m guessing things were so good for you that you forgot about the friend who sat up until midnight with you and your amazing girlfriend to help you get through a rough patch, and spent hours on the phone?… Ouch [sixth form friend]. Ouch.”
I usually sit on feelings like this. I keep them inside until their flames give way to ashes, and the ashes fertilise the soil in which better thoughts can then grow. I am used to people letting me down and drifting away when the going gets tough. The things that break me scare them away. But this person doesn’t know the things that broke me. How could he? Since I stayed up until 4am dealing with the emotional aftermath of his controlling and manipulative behaviour towards his girlfriend, spent two days messaging and speaking on the phone to and sitting in front of him and his girlfriend to help them through a rough patch and get him to listen to her and realise how alarming his behaviour was (and also gave him details of a job because he’s just been fired, which he didn’t know about, but later applied to and got…) he hasn’t messaged me once. Many have called him self centred over the years, and usually I’m willing to overlook that, because I know what it is like not to have a friend when you need one… I know what it is like not to have a friend when you need one, because people like him taught me. It is always people who call themselves my “best friend”. It is always the people who know how difficult it is for me to trust. It is always the people who said they would always be there, that they weren’t like everyone else, the people that promised (even uni parents). And when I realised that, instead of just accepting it like usual, I suddenly just decided I wasn’t going to stand for that any more. I’m changing, at the moment. Things are up in the air. And this was something that needed to change.
Right now, my brain doesn’t care about much. I’m not feeling things, the filter between thought and speech has dissolved… so when I got a message from Sixth Form Friend and sent a screenshot of the notification to My Fellow Third Wheel (who told me not to even bother replying, and exclaimed that it had only taken A MONTH…) it didn’t take much encouragement for me to tell him what he has needed to hear for a long time. The above message tumbled out of my thumbs. And a load of excuses poured back at me. Something about him knowing I was talking to his girlfriend and he would just find out if I was ok through her. Except I haven’t talked to his girlfriend. She’s only 17 and very emotional, and I do not need emotion around me right now. I need calm. I need people who don’t react. She occasionally messaged me, maybe three or four times over the last month, to say hi. And I explained that I couldn’t construct conversations, because I genuinely haven’t known how to, and she understood that I was going through something and let it go. (Also, he knows me very well, and I have never ever talked about stuff, because I don’t. Even uni mum said this to me today – I talk so easily to her, but she’s seen my inability to talk to others).
I pointed out that he hadn’t even said “hi” since everything I’d done for them. And I hadn’t done all of that for them because I expected anything in return (they seemed to be under the illusion that I’d only given up two hours of my time… Even my Fellow Third Wheel remarked that it had been a lot more than that, because naturally I kept him up to speed), I wanted no thanks, I did it because I cared. Sixth Form Friend pointed out that I hadn’t said hi either. And My Fellow Third Wheel joined me in my stunned annoyance at this. (The stunned annoyance that swiftly gave way to me seeing that he had a good point, concluding that I am a lousy friend and don’t really deserve friends, and spiralling into a little pit of self loathing and guilt. But before that, the following thoughts fuelled my brief annoyance.)
Firstly: I didn’t say hi because I fell apart. I broke. I couldn’t talk at all. To anyone (My Fellow Third Wheel broke through the wall, as did Uni Pal – but I didn’t talk to them about anything, they were just there and refused not to be, and they refused to stop trying, and even talked on the phone and met up with me, and they didn’t react emotionally in front of me. But even their reactions and occasional optimism at times mildly irritated me, because it made me feel like they thought my reaction an overreaction and that I was entirely alone and misunderstood). I even stopped blogging for a few days. I cried. I was scarily/ extremely suicidal (until the idea of running again saved my butt). I pretty much had a breakdown. And he (as his girlfriend has for a while) would have known something was up if he’d bothered to say hi, because when I cannot compute, things are generally bad.
Secondly: I very often message first, and why should I? This one time when I was 17 and stuck in a paediatric ward, I used to message a few of my friends every day and say good morning and ask how their days were going. Their responses became streamlined to one word replies, and eventually they often didn’t bother to respond at all. But I kept messaging, because I was trying to let them know they still meant something to me, even if they didn’t visit when they said they would (or at all actually) or talk to me at all any more. I didn’t need to matter to them, that wasn’t what being a friend was about, I just wanted them to know that they still had a friend in me. And then I got septicaemia (not for the first time that year). I nearly died. I was very, very unwell. A couple of weeks later I picked up my phone and there was not a single missed message. Nobody had cared to investigate the fact that my daily texts had just stopped. Nobody cared at all. So I don’t message first any more (I make an exception for uni mum, who I spoke to on FaceTime for over an hour today… and it was just like old times, and she said we need to meet up and go for drinks when we’re both back in London and it made me SO HAPPY to have someone that I can just talk about anything and everything – but not the hell I’m about to go through, even though she understood some of the unpleasentness immediately – to).
The people who matter, and the people who think I matter, don’t wait for me to ask for help because they know I never will (he knows this well). They send messages, and yeah when I’m breaking down or can’t human, I don’t reply. If I don’t know how to talk, I don’t. If I don’t think I can try to explain in a way that isn’t going to make the waters of what is going on even more muddy, then I don’t try to explain until I can answer their questions. Most of the time, I just can’t face human interactions when I’m in the middle of crap. But that’s how people tell with me. Given a little space, I figure out how to string together some words, and eventually I do.
Sometimes I just shut myself off. When my world is collapsing around me I put all my efforts into holding myself together (or in recent times, trying to resist the thought that the only logical way to cope was to end it all – once again, thanks to the hope of running again, for shutting that thought up). I want to be there, and I want to reply, but I can’t interact with humans at all. However, I see these messages, and I know that those people are true friends. I know they want to be there and don’t know how to. I know that I am so shut off and withdrawn that they can’t get anywhere close. And they know that I will get through it, and that those messages mean more to me than they will ever understand. I don’t care what they say, that little message notification means that I may be out of sight but I am not yet out of mind. And I hate myself for not being able to instantly reply, or to offer more than an “I’ll be fine” or an “I can’t talk right now, I’m really sorry.”
Conversations where my message was the last… conversations where between the last message and the present moment, I have had a breakdown and been on an emotional rollercoaster and/ or my body has almost killed itself yet again and there isn’t a single unread message… Those conversations tell me that I shouldn’t bother trying to rekindle the fires of those friendships. And then I hate myself more, because I know it works two ways. Some would say that my health and my emotional state as a result of it at times, both excuse the fact that sometimes I just cannot human. My closest friends understand this. And they are the ones who push me to into thoughts like those above, they reinforce that view point and sometimes even plant the seed that grows into the paragraphs above.
I know this is ridiculous and so, so pathetic. Friendship has for me always been a sacrifice, it has always been about bleeding myself of all energy and emotion for self-centred people or for those who don’t realise how amazing they are. I gave my all to my friends. I am there whenever I am able to, and unfortunately lately that hasn’t been anywhere near often (probably not at all, actually, other than for My Fellow Third Wheel, who I helped through a seriously crappy time). But Uni Pal and other wonderful friends I have made, have recently opened up the other lane of the twi-way street of friendship. They have shown me that it doesn’t have to be a sacrifice, and if it is then it is an alternating sacrifice which swaps between both parties in order to lift the other. And I wasn’t willing to shut that lane. I wasn’t willing to be the only one making the sacrifices again. And that’s selfish, that’s so so selfish, because I want to shield my friends from me and my life, I want to protect them and keep them safe and happy and blissfully unaware of what I am facing. I don’t want it to destroy two lives… but it doesn’t. I am also learning that it doesn’t. And I don’t want my friends to make sacrifices for me like that. I’m talking about really, really little teeny tiny things, just to let me know that although there is a traffic jam on my side of the road, and the traffic is trying to move but just can’t… there’s still someone there on the other side.
And in the case of Sixth Form Friend, when the traffic jam blocked one side of the road, his side was not open to allow the emergency service vehicles to get through. This was just the one time where my other friends woke me up.
Yes, uni mum did this. But her actions from the moment she first met “seriously ill me” in the anatomy practical she was helping out in (and sat with me in hospital late into the night) spoke so loudly that I didn’t need her words.
I’m a mess right now.
I don’t even know why I posted this. I’m actually a little unwilling to hit post because I’m worried that you guys will want to slap me when you read this. I will take a chance and post it, keeping in mind the fact that I can delete it at any time.
Sorry for this one.
What did I even do.