A Letter To… An Old Friend

Christmas is a good time for reflection, though in truth there are plenty of other times throughout the year that I think of you. Often because something reminds me of you, and occasionally you just pop into my head for no apparent reason. We haven’t spoken for over five years now; I wonder if you ever think of me. I ask after you where I can, but our mutual friends have dwindled since we grew up, moved out, and moved on. I think you’re happy.

We were an odd pair right from the start. You were outgoing, gregarious, and girly; I was quiet, socially anxious, and forever attempting to reject the obvious aspects of my femininity. (You may smile to know this is pretty much still the case.) You were also one of the warmest people I had ever met. You took me under your wing when I found myself, after a certain turn of events, alone and isolated, and you accepted me wholeheartedly.

It wasn’t long before we were inseparable. I will give you all the credit in this instance, as lord knows that I always have been, and probably always will be, hopeless at picking up the phone. You coaxed me out of my shell and planned things for us to do, to go, to see. We spent many nights sitting on each other’s sofas in sweatpants or our pyjamas, stuffing our faces and watching some of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. But it was such good fun. I’ve never found anyone else to do it with.

As I got to know you, I discovered that underneath your confident demeanour ran an insecure streak that I always sought to erase. I couldn’t understand it. You were always the one the boys fancied; I was who they came to in order to ask you out. I had my own worries to begin with (you found me friendless, remember), and overtime, watching you charm a room while I hung back, and picking you up when your bold surface threatened to give way to your inner fragility, I became utterly dependent on you, and I think you did on me.

I may have felt isolated before I met you, but there was also a sense of freedom in not having to answer to anyone. With you, I think I became isolated in a different way. I felt I couldn’t hang out with other people in case it upset you. I wanted to expand our circle of friends – of course, we’d still be each other’s BFF – to reduce our reliance on one another somewhat, but you were largely against this. Our once brilliant friendship started to feel a bit unhealthy.

I said earlier that you are one of the warmest people I’ve ever known, and it’s true. You have a heart of gold. There have been so many occasions that I wish I could have confided in you, because I know I can trust you, and you’d know what to say. There were also times during our friendship, though, that I felt I didn’t really get a chance to speak. Your issues were always our issues: boys, family, school; and I was more than happy for the focus to be on you – I hate being in the spotlight, even in a circle of two.

But as time went by, there were occasions when I couldn’t help feeling resentful. It was made worse by the fact that I internalise everything. You knew more than most, but you didn’t know everything about me. There are some things that I can only bring myself to say to the wind. So I cannot begrudge you for not acknowledging the changes in my mood and not being sympathetic on particular days. I just wish – I don’t know really. That you were more perceptive?

During what was to be the last year of our friendship, something happened that turned my world upside down and made me re-evaluate everything in my life. At first, you were great. You gave me space, as you knew I wouldn’t want to talk. I withdrew into myself, and shut you out because I didn’t think you could understand.

I remember sitting down with you one day and apologising, and told you I was willing to continue as we were, if you still wanted to. I was relieved that you agreed, but something nagged. It didn’t feel the same anymore – didn’t feel the same anymore. And as I started to slowly unfurl from the tight knot I’d wound myself into, you carried on as if nothing had really happened. The conversation went back to you, only this time, I wasn’t listening anymore. I was too filled with rage, too hurt that you couldn’t see there were more important considerations in life than which boy to go to the cinema with.

I feel bad at how our friendship ended. I basically shut you out again, but for good this time. I didn’t have the guts to tell you how I felt, so I just let you interpret what you wanted from my silence. You swapped seats to move away from me in class; I deleted my social media account so I wouldn’t have to see any of our old messages.

I understand that you were horribly betrayed and hurt by my actions, and I can only apologise. I was young and angry, and blamed you while you were blaming me. For a while after our ‘separation’ I felt free again. I was back to only having myself to answer to. You soon enough found people to replace me, but I never did the same with you. I don’t know how you feel about me now; I have made peace with our situation, but I understand if you don’t or can’t forgive me.

I hope you have a great life and meet some wonderful people. You deserve it. Love, Izzi.

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