“Stealing gold from the silver they see, but it’s not me.” -Sara Bareilles, “City”
Why is it so easy to think the worst of me? Why is it so hard for them to care about me as much as I care about them?
I don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to offer support, comfort, encouragement. It’s not like I’m incapable of doing it. I’ve done it. I’ve also done so much more.
But it doesn’t seem to matter. Nothing I do or say seems to matter. In the end, they’ll always revert to type, project their hang-ups on me, put words in my mouth, twist things around to suit them, be selfish, self-serving, utterly self-righteous. In the end, it seems I never ever get the benefit of the doubt, while I’m forever giving the same benefit to them without even asking.
I don’t get it. I honestly don’t know what I’ve done wrong. I look back, replay the day’s events, try to find something, anything, to indict me with. I was polite, I was courteous, I was kind, I bent over backwards to accommodate these people, these friends. I did everything I could possibly do. And still it wasn’t enough.
When the going gets rough, they blame me, they make horrible accusations, they think the absolute worst of me. They forget the friend I’ve been to them, and then, they write me off, as if I’ve committed an unforgivable crime against humanity, against them in a trial they came armed and ready for — judge, jury, executioner.
One friend completely flips out. I turn to another, expecting support, comfort, the same volcano of emotions I felt: confusion, bewilderment, frustration, outrage, hurt. I expect some sort of validation, not because I’m perfect. But because I honestly can’t see what I did wrong. I did the best I could in the situation, however blindsided I felt. I did the best I possibly could.
How could they give so little to me in return? How could they not at least find it in their hearts to see what I’m going through? How can they leave me with not one loving word to say, “I’d be angry and hurt, too. This doesn’t make sense. You deserve better. You did the best you could. You. did. nothing. wrong.”
Why do I extend myself when it’s all for nothing?
I can’t believe this. Can’t you people see this whole situation is fucked up? Why is it okay for another person to shit all over me and my family like this, and get away with it? Why is that okay for you? How the hell can you just sit there, like it doesn’t matter? It matters to me.
It feels like I survived a real fire. I’m standing in the middle of the street, my clothes in tatters, still burned to my flesh. I’ve lost everything. And people just walk right by me. Not strangers, people who swore up and down that they were my friends, that they’d always be on my side, that I was a good person, a good mother, a good, decent human being, someone worthy of love.
Why are they walking away? Why are they all walking away?
More to the point: Why did I waste so much time caring for people who are no better than con artists?
I’ve never felt more alone than I do tonight. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to pick up the pieces, to invest in another friendship, to put myself back out there. What for?
Kindness, solace, comfort, real friendships… They’re fairy tales, invented by entrepreneurs and criminals, to sell soap.
Even as I write this, I hear my father — or those fake friends — yelling at me in my head, telling me what a drama queen I am, feeling sorry for myself, I’m so full of shit, acting like I’m some tragic martyr… oh you’re not perfect, yet here you go saying you can’t think of anything you did wrong, uh I guess you’re perfect then after all, aren’t you, dumbass hypocrite full of yourself bitch?
I can’t find the right words to tell you how much pain I’m in over this.
You have to believe me. What happened was wrong. These aren’t friends. A friend wouldn’t do what these people did. I would never do what these people did to me and my family, EVER. I would never leave a hurting friend out to dry with Christian platitudes reserved for the unconverted, this arm’s length bullshit. What the fuck is that about?
Is that worth the time and money I devoted to you and your family? the many times I backed you up against anyone who even looked at you strange? the many times I fought your fucking battles for you?
I deserve you to fight for me, as I fought and would fight for you. I deserve more than a Hallmark card that blesses both me and the friend who hurt me so deeply, a friend you barely knew. I deserve more than this kiss-off, when all I tried to do in the end was the right thing.
I deserve at least one person to recognize what was done to me and to defend my honor, because what happened was so wrong, so hurtful, so heinous.
I stand here waiting for that one person who will NEVER speak up for me. I stand here waiting, while these people go on and on about how much they suffer, how they’ve been abandoned, how they can’t find decent friends who will support, comfort, and love them…
Think. Think. Think. Think back to when I was a child.
If my own parents, my brother couldn’t support me, what makes me think people outside my family could? My first experience with one-sided relationships stemmed from my own family growing up. My parents were the first to blame me for anything that went wrong, even if I had no part in it. My brother was forever blaming me for his own rule-breaking behavior. Because I was the oldest child, the responsible one, the unpopular, serious one who never smiled and wasn’t wouldn’t ever be as beautiful as my mother, ordinary she put it, I took their punishment. I had to take their verbal and physical beatings without any expression on my face, so as not to offend them.
I kept waiting for these beautiful, popular, beloved people to take care of me, have my back, support, care for, and love me. When bullies attacked me, I learned early on to hide their crimes as if their crimes were my own, because early on, my parents showed me what happens when I got myself in trouble by getting in the way of the bullies’ assaults. I didn’t cause the assaults. My parents didn’t care. It was my fault somehow.
Once, I was in the woods above the playground waiting for my friend to show up. Neighborhood bullies came after me, throwing rocks and promising worse, when in terror, I peed my pants. I ran to the nearest neighbor’s house, kind people, who called my parents. They briefly gave me the compassion I sought.
When it was safe, away from prying public eyes, my parents dropped the act and whipped me the rest of the night, finding things that I did wrong in the situation to justify their beating and recrimination. They screamed in my face: Why were you in the woods with boys? That’s what whores do. How could you embarrass us with our friends like that by peeing your pants and not going directly home? What the hell is wrong with you? Why can’t you think straight? You’re so stupid.
The entire time, I wanted to tell them that I was afraid the boys would hurt me, that’s why I peed my pants. I was afraid. I kept waiting for my parents to care about me, to show some sign that I mattered, that I was okay, that I was loved.
Instead, they thought the worst of me, no matter what I did or said. I could’ve been the good girl. I was the good girl. My brother was the trouble-maker. But he could sweet-talk them out of any punishment, then make them think he was the victim.
I was the child who strived to get the good grades, who overcame her learning problems and the distractions on her own, who studied hard, found resources, applied herself on her own, and went to college, majored in journalism, interned, and found a job in her field a year or less after graduation, who worked three-four jobs, plus volunteering, who rode one bus after another almost every night to put herself through a liberal arts degree, who learned about nutrition and exercise, took up jogging, lost weight…
I was. But nothing I did was ever good enough. Certainly not good enough to love, comfort, support, value, believe in.
Nobody in my family ever believed in me. Why should I expect my friends to?