“In High School, I was friends with a girl who was part of the ‘cooler’ group. The one that hung with the boys, never did her homework but always passed the year anyway, and rocked hair colors like orange or purple – the ones I always admired but never braved.
She had a boyfriend of three years, while I’d spent those same years locked in an emotionally exhausting tug-of-war with a boy I’d been half in love with since the day we met.
It wasn’t a quiet affair - as I haven’t been able to shut up about my feelings since my first crush on Mirko From The Playground when I was three – which made it harder for me to tell myself, “Maybe she didn’t know! Surely she didn’t want to hurt me”, when she made a move on such boy. And succeeded.
All the while her boyfriend watched in pained silence, I vowed to never love again, and nobody got their happy ending, really, because this was High School after all. Nobody gets anything in High School.
In the grand scheme of things -and considering it’s been five years -you could say it’s nothing. It did hurt, the way a first love ending always does, but it’s a new year and we’re all trying to be better, aren’t we? So when on January 3rd, out of the blue, I started thinking about the fact again, I told myself it was all water under the bridge, and I should finally let bygones be bygones. Forgive and forget.
And I tried, I really did. But the more I thought about it, the angrier I got.
Fun discovery I made then: I can still get red-in-the-face-angry, to-the-point-of-tears-angry about this, even after all this time. Clearly, there was something about it that I couldn’t quite put to rest: something I hadn’t worked through, or ‘elaborated’, as my therapist would say.
Strong from this discovery, and high on that post-NYE ‘going-to-start-all-over’ feeling, I did what any modern woman in her twenties who’s still crying over her High School misfortunes would do: I opened Facebook and went to send my old friend a message.
I didn’t know what I wanted to achieve with it, or if I would achieve anything at all, but I knew in that moment that I couldn’t go on without at least trying to get her to understand. I stared at the blinking space bar, biting my nails and groaning under my breath because this was ridiculous, and I waited for something to come. I waited ’til my tea got cold and ’til I’d taken all my frustration out on my nails (sorry, nails, you know how I get), but nothing.
Then it clicked.
I wasn’t getting anywhere because I was looking at it all wrong. I had never moved past the anger and disappointment because it hurt too much to do so, but when I forced myself to, what I found was that I was the only one I was angry at. Staring back at me from the blue of my computer screen, my old friend’s smiling profile picture didn’t stir up any of the misery I’d anticipated: she’d never had anything to do with it.
I was the one who willingly played tug-of-war with a pretty boy to the point of exhaustion. I was the only one I could hold responsible for not getting out of there in time.
She was no model friend, of course, and I would love for her to apologize for that (I’m human, okay?), but I’m not holding my breath anymore. For so long I’ve waited for a sign that she, too, was haunted by our shared past, in hopes that talking it out could lead to a much-awaited reconciliation -but I no longer need her to make the first step.
I’ve stared my anger right in the face and watched it deflate like a punctured balloon, which is when I realized that I’d forgiven all I needed to forgive. It took me five years, but god, it felt good.
I went back to the Facebook tab I’d left open on my laptop, and sent my old friend a bizarre but truthful sort of conciliatory message. She hasn’t replied, and at this point, probably never will -but it doesn’t matter. I’ve done my part. I’ve forgiven her, and somehow ended up forgiving myself in the process.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a list of everyone I’ve ever been mad at in my life and try the same magic trick on each of them, because January just ended and I’ve got a lot of names to go through.”