I have a really hard time letting go of people – even when they hurt me over and over again, or I feel that our friendship is extremely one-sided. I am always looking for the good in people and, in a way, I collect that good. I hold on to people based on the good I see in them, not the bad.
Sean says that it’s a really refreshing quality, because even though I’ve been abused, lied to, pressured into things, cheated on, and abandoned, I still greet every person I meet with the same enthusiasm, still open myself up to them, and still forgive them. Hi, you’re new, I want to know you.
I guess I just can’t bear the idea of missing out on someone amazing just because they could maybe be the next person who hurts me. I think people are worth that risk.
I think that’s part of why I’m so forgiving as well – I want every person I meet to be amazing, or at least have the chance to be. I see something good in them, but we’re still young, still rough around the edges. Sometimes we need to be forgiven so we can become smooth and shiny.
At the same time, I think this forgiveness is part of why I have so many one-sided or lackluster friendships. Because I forgive so completely that I open myself to possibly being hurt a second, third, and even fourth time, by the same person. And instead of finally saying “y’know, I’ve had enough,” I try to talk to them, and tell them what they are doing hurts me.
That’s what I did with Haley a few months ago, actually. Only I gave myself an ultimatum this time – I told myself if she didn’t respond within three days, I would force myself to give up.
My abusive ex messaged me on facebook to let me know he’d be in town this summer, to visit Haley and Noah. After having a panic attack at the prospect of seeing him, it occurred to me how hurtful it is to know that he and Haley are still friends. She was there with me through our relationship – through mind games, lies, sexual pressure; when a majority of my classmates thought I was having sex at 14 because he told people we were, she was one of the few people who knew the truth. She was the first person to tell me he was abusing me. But the moment he and I broke up, I felt as if she took his side. When he moved back to Florida, and I was trying to pick myself up from the self-loathing he had left me in, she would call him and tell him things I said about him, because “he deserved to know what I really thought.” And now he’s coming to visit her?
What hit me even harder was remembering how much she disapproved of Sean and I, as friends and as a couple, because the two of them dated for about a month during our sophomore year of high school. Their relationship ended when another girl kissed him, after which he ran home and called Haley. I remember her being very angry at me for being his friend after this point.
When I messaged her, all I really wanted to know was why it was okay for her to still be friends with a boy who abused me for 8+ months (probably closer to a year if you count the months after we broke up, when he practically stalked me), but it wasn’t okay for me to be friends with a boy who she dated for not even a month, who didn’t mean to hurt her. He didn’t seek out this girl, they were hanging out with a group of friends and she turned and kissed him.
Haley read my message the same day, but I still left it for about a week, longer than I said I would, hoping she would respond. Finally, I did it. I unfriended her, and the same day I blocked my ex-boyfriend.
I took a huge step forward and the only time I looked back (more seriously than missing) was when I talked to Noah. That was tough, because he clearly didn’t understand, or was not told, the entire situation. He informed me that Haley was hurt that Sean and I were dating, something she never told me. The last time she and I talked about Sean and I before we started dating, she gave me her blessing. He then said that from Haley’s point of view, if my ex hurt me so badly, why did I keep talking to him. Because they’ve both been abused and clearly understand the complex emotional relationship between an abuser and the abused. It’s more complicated than “you abused me, I’m going to ignore you.” I cared about him despite the abuse, I stayed with him when he threatened to kill himself, to kill others if I left. I loved him even when I said no and he pushed forward anyway. Not to mention how worthless I felt, to the point that I thought I deserved to be controlled and hurt, to be made fun of by teachers and peers after we broke up (true story).
The conversation ended with Noah telling me he wasn’t going to stop being friends with Ryan, something I never asked him or Haley to do. It also ended with me feeling very hurt, because I knew Haley was talking to me through Noah, but wouldn’t have an actual conversation with me, and because I felt the abuse I went through and what I was feeling overall was being belittled. I guess I thought, even if Haley didn’t care, this guy who I’ve affectionately referred to as “big brother” for years would at least show a little emotion.
Why does this matter?
A few nights ago, I dreamt that Haley and I were living together, with her parents and Sean, in the apartment she grew up in. We weren’t really talking at the beginning of the dream but ended up bonding by the end, because we were both constantly in the kitchen together cooking (separate cooking, but in the same vicinity it’s hard to completely ignore someone?) (that part made me laugh because I’m pretty sure she and I have both actually been cooking constantly this summer).
Anyway, I woke up really missing Haley, someone who has been in my life for about 8 years, but who I recently “unfriended.” This happens sometimes – I’ll see an elephant, or something bright orange and interestingly shaped, and I’ll just start to miss her. It’s been particularly bad recently – I miss how we used to share our novels in 7th and 8th grade, how we used to get in physical fights for fun, swing dancing in the halls at lunch, the time we went dress shopping together, the annual musical. I know that she would be enthusiastic about all the cooking I’ve done recently, as well – making a full (and new to me) meal every evening, baking my first cake from scratch. She would share that excitement with me.
So I guess this post is really just serving to remind me that, as good as those times were, if she can’t have serious conversations with me about things that hurt me, if she can’t be there for me and with me emotionally, that good stuff isn’t worth it.