Here are some stats for you:
In the last 2 years, I’ve visited 7 friends in different places, traveling over 4000 miles altogether. None of them have come to visit me.
I’ve invited a dozen people to hang out at my place. 4 have showed up.
I’ve made plans with at least 6 people who have then bailed on those plans at the last minute.
I’ve been a damn good friend in my lifetime. Friend has surgery? I’ll make a surprise house visit (with a 6 hour round trip drive) to cheer her up. Graduation party on the same day that I get back from a semester in Europe? I’ll put off sleep and being home for the first time in 5 months to make that pit stop. No, I’m not a perfect person. But I am very forgiving, perhaps to a fault, and therein lies my downfall.
See, I have horrible anxiety when it comes to making everyone happy. That combined with a great love for my friends meant that I was a fantastic friend. I would be there nearly every time at the drop of a hat. I don’t always give expensive gifts, but a heartfelt one you can expect, even if it’s just the homemade dessert that you love best. And if bad things happened, I was sympathetic. And silly me, I didn’t realize that people were starting to take advantage of that. I’m the one who travels everywhere, so surely it’s no big deal for me to travel to see people where they live instead of them coming to see me. Works great for both of us! You have to work or spend time with your girlfriend or go to a party while I’m there? That’s cool. I get it. You’re busy. I’m only a grad student who works multiple jobs and gave up a weekend of getting shit done to spend time with you.
The worst part is that I keep hoping and expecting. Next time, I tell myself. They’ll pull through. They’ll make plans. They’ll text first. Because they’re my friends. And that’s what friends do.
No. That’s what I do.
Okay maybe I’ll clarify. That’s what I do for people I consider my friends, people I care about. So maybe that’s where the snag is. Maybe it’s that these people don’t feel the same way about me. Because they would do more if they cared about me. Right?
I was afraid before to lose my friends. I was so caught up in trying to keep them that I didn’t even notice that they were already gone. See, they’ll still come to me when they need something. They’ll still want to be a part of all the good times in my life, especially if they get to make an appearance as ~good friend~. Yeah, I’m looking at you, wedding. But the days when I need them most, they’ll be a void. Hell, most of the times I need someone to talk to these days are because I’ve been let down by a “friend” yet again.
But they know that the next time they need advice or someone to laugh with or are just lonely, I’ll come through for them. Because I’m such a good friend to them.
Now, I’m afraid to make friends, to be a friend. I’m afraid of the disappointment I’ll face. I put on my armor and I brace for impact. But they keep hitting me in the exact same spots and now my shield is weak. I didn’t come here for a battle.
To my friends, those people that I have loved and treasured, and still do:
My heart is battered and broken. You once lifted it so high, but that only made the fall worse. I try so hard to hide it, but you already know that I will keep offering it to you, over and over. So I ask one last favor from you. Surely you can give me that.
Leave me be.
Don’t keep taking what you can’t give back. You’re not worthy of my friendship anymore. And unless you intend to change, don’t accept the heart from my outstretched hands any more. It can’t take this anymore. You’re a better friend to me by admitting that you’re not one than pretending.
I’m not afraid of not having friends anymore. I’m afraid of the black hole of self-loathing and doubt that my friends will send me into.