The Tender Mercy of a Dead Friendship

At first I was flattered, thinking that her desire to get to know me was due to the fact that I was interesting, or funny, or pleasant to be around. Familiarity breeds intimacy and that’s what she wanted.  To know me.  And she did, but it wasn’t because she cared, I think it was because she was curious. And probably a bit bored.  Entertain her!

Actually, she was the entertaining one. The outgoing one who could make everyone laugh to the point of tears more times than I can remember.  Often at someone else’s expense.  But that was her personality!  Just a biting sense of humor.  Chew you up and spit you out kind of humor.

I think there were rare moments of real caring.  Genuine friendship. And those moments made me excuse the many other moments when she made me feel like shit.

She wanted information and secrets and she listened like she loved me but I didn’t realize that I had become the subject of her conversations.  That once they left my lips my stories and experiences were hers to share.  Retooled and retold to strangers who dissected my mannerisms and diagnosed my possible disorders and spent time online, deciphering the codes I didn’t realize I had embedded in my pictures and posts.  Of all the notifications I received I dreaded hers the most.  Her preternatural ability to deliver backhanded compliments and scathing critiques was unparalleled.  But I can take a joke.  It’s just her personality!  She is jealous and spiteful and ecstatic when you look bad, but it’s not her.  It’s this separate, blameless entity, ‘personality’.  The problem with that explanation is that if it’s true, it should be universally so. Not applied only to a few, unlucky ones.

And so I was wary.  I guarded my thoughts and hid away from her.  She became a friend in name only.  She accidentally left her phone next to me and it dings dings dings and there’s a terrible photo of me that she took without me knowing. It’s part of a group text with people who don’t know me.  I am the punchline of a joke. I am not as pretty or perfect in real life as I pretend to be online and she’s got the proof. She rushed back and grabbed it, flushed with the awful fear of being found out.  I smiled sweetly and pretended I hadn’t seen anything.  She hadn’t violated any loyalty because there really wasn’t any left at that point.   The more I retreated the nicer she became, but it was a saccharine sweet that made my teeth hurt.  I didn’t believe anything she said anymore and she knew it.  Our interactions were forced and tense and eventually, they stopped altogether.

She was a good friend until she wasn’t.  At some point, I think she really, genuinely started to hate me and I wish she had just done the noble thing and ghosted me.  Extricating myself took far too long than it should have. It meant accepting that some people outside of the situation might take sides, might think of me as full of myself or overly sensitive. Might not know my side of the story. That’s something you forfeit in exchange for a clean break. And it’s something you find you don’t really need in the end.

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