Dear Diary. . . /Friendship/
“Call me whenever you need me. That’s what friends are for. . . I might not call everyday but I’ll always be here for you.”
The moment those words left my lips I knew I had uttered a profound lie. I knew I wasn’t that girl anymore. The girl that put her friends first. The girl that loved to keep her friends happy. The girl that always wanted to be in everyone’s good books and graces. The girl that was actually a friend. I barely cared anymore. My heart was tired. I cast a fleeting glance at her and averted my gaze immediately,hoping I could hide whatever feelings of mine my eyes might reflect.
I was once the 'best' friend a person could have. My mum called me 'a woman of the people' once. Not nicely. She was always against my constant need for friends and was annoyed by their constantly growing numbers. Worst still,she hated that I’d do anything within my power to please or help anyone I considered a friend. Sometimes I went beyond. Scratch that. . . A lot of times I went beyond.
My teenage years weren’t the easiest. My days in secondary school were worse. I needed constant support and the safety of having your own person. The problem is,I always chose the wrong person. I want to attribute my utter ignorance and lack of discernment to the myth of rocky teenage years but honestly, I think I was just trying to fill a void. A void that still exists by the way. I was horrible at picking friends and I was even more unfortunate with my romantic relationships.
I grew up with 'Don’t make friends' playing like a broken record almost every day of my life. My family,for some really weird reason,hated the word 'Friend’. They were incensed by the very idea of it. God help you if the word turned plural. The idea that people were evil was indoctrinated in the early stages of my life. I was taught to be alone. I was told having friends would be the death of me. I was told I don’t need anyone asides family and well,random people that might be of service one way or another.
The first thing you should know about me is,I’m a curious cat. I’d often do the direct opposite of what I’m told just to find the truth for myself. I’d often add a little extra. The outcomes are usually a 50/50 play. They’re not always good,they aren’t entirely bad either. So,you see,I made friends. I made friends firstly with fear. And when the fear fizzled out I was left with acute paranoia. Heavy trust issues.
Now let me explain something about MY trust issues.I trusted my friends. At the same time I didn’t trust them. My trust was based totally on hopes that they’d prove my family wrong. It was based on the belief that I’d finally find someone. . . My own person. It was based on hopes that my family was wrong. It was centered on the relief of finally finding a square piece to fit the hollow in my heart. At the same time I totally distrusted them. I distrusted their every move. I read meaning into every action. I was both hot and cold. I was afraid of abandonment. . . I brought them just close enough and then kicked them out.
Now now. Easy. Don’t judge yet. As much as I’d love to take all the blame for my palpable loneliness,it wasn’t all me. If I’m being honest,it was just 40% me. . . Or maybe not. I mean,I have to blame myself for choosing all the wrong people,yes? And blame myself for being a little too curious? Mm. Maybe 49% then. I think that’s fair enough.
My first official friend was Susan. I just got into secondary school. We were both young. It’s difficult to recollect the details but we made a pretty picture. I think I began learning sacrifice at that stage. I can remember sharing my lunch with her countless times. My lunch money was never really enough. How much was it again? N50. Lol. That got me five wraps of Okpa then,and on countless occasions two went to her. On fewer occasions,three. I was glad I could share. I believe she shared things with me too. I honestly can’t remember but I believe she did. She left at the end of the session. And yes,we fell out before she left. I didn’t push her away. I was too young. We were both too young to understand the nuances of the heart. We just fell out and that was it.
I missed her. I can remember taking a different route home from school countless times just to pass by her house and see if she ever came back. She didn’t. That might have been my first heartbreak but I was too young to even notice. I lost a friend and that was it. On to the next class and a new friend. . . I still sing the song she taught me. . .Once in a while.
My next new friend was hard to get. Let me rephrase. She played hard to get. She was a year older and a lot more. . . Experienced. I was new to the class,she wasn’t. I was alone,she knew how to navigate humans. I liked her.
I’ve always had a penchant for people older than I am anyways.
She was brilliant. It didn’t always reflect on her results but she was. And boyyyy,was she confident. That was what got me attracted. The sureness with which she handled things and situations. The strength and seeming wisdom in her voice and words. She walked like she knew who she was. I had absolutely no idea who I was. I could only pick bits and pieces from who my family said I was. And over the years those bits and pieces slowly faded, revealing a totally new identity. One that hasn’t exactly been easy to navigate.
I talked to her. I sat next to her. I all but followed her around. I was determined to be friends with her and she told me blatantly that I had to earn that friendship. In more subtle words,that is. I worked to earn it. I worked to earn her trust. I tried to prove I was worthy. I was always there. I chose to understand her mood swings. Put up with her attitudes. I chose to be a 'good' friend. I put her first.
Now now,you can sweep the suspicion off your mind. It was absolutely platonic. I liked boys. I still do.
Far be it from me that I paint myself as a saint. I’m sure I was a handful too. I wasn’t perfect. Not nearly. I’m sure I was a lot to put up with at some point.
We became friends. Best of friends maybe. I knew her family. She kinda met mine. I got what I wanted. We were friends and I was ready to keep it that way. I chose to stay despite everyone, including my teachers, being against it. I wanted so desperately to be good enough. And I tried. But the universe had different plans. It always has different plans.
At some point,things went haywire. Fights erupted. There were disagreements and circumstances that tested our loyalty and she fell short. Realllly short. Short enough for me to actually realise my heart was broken.
Over the years people came and went. A piece of my heart left with each of them. Each piece a part of me that trusted wholly. Now my heart is an uneven mosaic of trust and distrust. I’m in my early twenties and I still can’t call anyone mine,friendship wise.
I’m almost done with school and I can’t point at a relationship that has really lasted. A healthy one,that is. I’ve made 'friends' that I can’t call when I’m at my lowest. And the ones I can call only respond when it’s convenient. Only when it suits their mental health. Can I blame them? No.
A part of my heart is still a child. I still want my own person. I still don’t understand the uneven waters of my emotions. I’ve been unable to figure out how I can be utterly vulnerable with someone and totally distant at the same time. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just refusing to see what’s been glaring all along.
The problem is,I have no idea what it is.
You know,dear diary,I think I might be a little toxic.