My mind often drifts to my earliest memory of being hurt. It was the result of one of the most important relationships in a young girl’s life – a friendship. It was/is a feeling of being rejected. I think many can attest that the feeling of their first hurt(s) follows them unless they attack it head on. Rejection. That is my shadow. It follows me like a stray dog that thinks I am its new owner – panting and wagging its tail all the way home. I turn around, shout at it to leave, throw stones at its feet to scare it off, however, rejection won’t leave me alone.
I remember the day I stood my ground defending my friend and when it was time for that same friend to defend me she stood on the sidelines and watched me get humiliated. “She is not your friend,” I remember being told by my peers. “She doesn’t care about you!” Outwardly I brushed them off. Inwardly, I could not agree more. Painful. That was elementary school. Fast forward, high school, another friend. She stopped talking to me for no reason. Honestly, nothing at all happened between us. I confirmed that years later when I asked her about it. I grieved this friend. I loved her so much, but she had her own adolescent reasons for wanting to end the friendship. What a painful rejection.
Fast forward a little more, university. It happens again. I gave my heart to a friend and she shoved it right back at me, dropping in and out of my life. She was the disappearing act friend. Rejection loves me a lot. It keeps following me. I became increasingly scared. Paranoid almost. I did not want to be hurt anymore and for this reason, I began protecting myself. Before they cut me off, I will cut them off. I allowed assumption, confusion, self-doubt, and anxiety to move in with me. Not one of them paid me any rent. They were freeloaders but I took solace in them. They were always there for me. Not like those so-called friends who conveniently disposed of me when they liked.
It became hurt or be hurt from here on out. No one, not one more ‘friend’ would hurt me again. So, when I saw that I was being ignored, I cut them off. When I felt they were going to cut me off, I cut them off (first). When I felt that the friendship was changing and I was not as significant anymore, I ran for the scissors and cut them off quick. I’m going to get you before you get me. So, on this day, I will write a letter, exposing myself and my misdeeds to my friends as a result of my hurt. I wanted to tell them I left them because I was confused because of my fears. I ran away, not understanding the complexities of our friendship and not willing to understand. My intention was simply to save myself from heartbreak.
Dear (Former) Friend,
I am sorry is not enough. I allowed my hurts and my fears to cause me to isolate myself. At the time, I felt I was protecting myself. However, I now know that in a sense I betrayed our friendship because I myself felt betrayed at many points in my life. I felt I had to because my heart could not take that unbearable hurt of losing a friend one more time. Maybe I needed to understand that things, people, and situations change and even though our friendship was not like it used to be, did not mean that we were no longer friends. You have to understand that rejection followed me.
After using those handy scissors, I heard that you got married; I wasn’t there. Your parent died; I wasn’t there. You had a baby; I wasn’t there. Rejection wouldn’t leave me alone and I missed it all. I know we can’t be friends again, and even if we could it would never be the same. However, in case you have read this letter and did not rip it up at the site of my name, know that you are always in my heart and I think of you often.
Your Former Friend
Life is funny because ironically most of the ones who rejected me I talk to today. The lesson, people are people and oftentimes what they do is not a reflection of you or anything you have done, but of them and who they are at that point in their lives. However, what of the ones I rejected due to my rejection? The ones I wrote that letter to? Many of them are gone, not willing to be found. Some of them will not even acknowledge my letter. Speaking of letters, I have recently handed a letter of notice to assumption, confusion, self-doubt, and anxiety. They are dragging their feet but they are leaving. They have to. There is no room for them anymore and they are cramping my style, to be honest. I still have to be cautious with friendships. We all do. However, I’m in a better place now. I better understand the complexities of friendship. Oh, and what a complex thing it is!