Memoir describing the breakdown of a friendship.
|I lost myself in you, because I felt like I had no fucking choice. I wonder when it happened, when I let my pieces shatter and fall akimbo on the ground. I walked over them every damn day, as your boyfriend chipped away at what remained with casual insults and cruelty. You noticed, you said nothing. You just laughed along with him.
After a lifetime, you were my bully too.
Sometimes I’d shake myself awake, grab some pieces and shove them in my pockets. I’d bite back at your boyfriend, but cruelty doesn’t suit me. I grew exhausted and heavy playing this “teasing” game. I wanted you to notice my pieces were gone, but you didn’t.
You just propped him up and kept playing along.
He was snide, he was jealous, he was noticeably annoyed that I invaded your shared space. He wasn’t always like that. When we first met, he was kind. He met me without you at a bar, just to get to know me.
Now I wonder if he was actually scouting the competition.
Then he was so kind. So friendly. He also loved my favorite show, and I thought we bonded over that immediately.
Then I moved back south, away from my northern exile. Now I lived in your apartment complex, where you’d lived for years. Now I was around all the time. Now I could see you whenever I wanted.
So I thought.
Immediately something changed. Your boyfriend wasn’t friendly anymore; he was threatened. I convinced myself for nearly two years that it was in my head, that he actually liked me still. That he just felt comfortable like me, so he treated me like one of his brothers.
That’s what you said, remember?
He talked to me like this because he has brothers.
I have a brother too. I don’t insult him. I don’t tease him with cruelty underneath. I never take it too far, because I love him, and I wouldn’t do that.
But your boyfriend?
He took it too far every time I saw you, every damn time. Until I stopped fighting him. I just stopped. I decided fuck it, I guess this is friendship.
Isn’t it funny how quickly I can lie to myself and believe the lie?
A few times I cracked and found my pieces scattered. I picked them up and shoved them next to the fading ones in my pockets.
I stood up to your boyfriend, finally. When he texted and played videos on his phone while you and I watched a movie. When he lashed out because I drank too much whisky, by his standards of course.
I had enough and paused the movie after the millionth time he tried to distract you with a video.
I paused and I waited. I didn’t say a word.
He kept saying I could play the movie.
But I didn’t. I just sat there, silently seething.
He gave up the nice act for once and stood up, angry.
He said, “You’ve been very rude tonight.” and then he went home.
We finished the movie and then, my nerves jangling, I offered you a glass of wine before you left. To make sure we were okay.
You gulped it down, and didn’t even try to ask me if I was okay, to do the same for me. You weren’t with me. You were with him.
I was desperate. I was nervous. I wanted to say anything, anything, to make this okay. You gave me nothing. You just drank the wine.
I said at last, “You’ll fix it like you always do.”
What did you say?
I’m just being coy. I’ll never forget it.
You just said, “That was rude.”
That was the night our friendship ended. I just spent the next two years lying to myself. When you moved away, I was so fucking relieved. Finally I could breathe. I hugged you goodbye at the party, even though your friends had never heard of me. Me, your “best” friend for 25 years.
I spent the next two years lying to myself. My anxiety spiraled each time I thought of you. I texted you less and less. I ran out of words, but couldn’t tell you the truth. I couldn’t end it.
When you came to visit, I had a panic attack at the thought. It wasn’t until I returned the therapy that I felt the truth exploding like a comet in my face.
You betrayed me. You let your boyfriend treat me like shit for years and only made a cursory attempt to stop it.
Actually. You did this before. Your previous boyfriend also felt threatened, also lashed out at me.
I thought you were my family. But you weren’t.
You’re just a guy who loved his boyfriend more than me. Who was so desperate for love, you didn’t see when he treated me like garbage. You cared more about his feelings than mine.
What you didn’t realize is we could have coexisted.
I’m not the one who can’t share.