I used to think that I was a horrible friend. Maybe it’s because in middle school and high school–especially high school–I was always told I was. Maybe not in those words but I felt like I was a horrible friend. I won’t lie, I did things I’m not proud of in high school. I got caught up in the petty drama and I hurt my friends, but can we also acknowledge a few things?
Like the fact we were teenagers. Teenagers are stupid. They do and say stupid things to impress their friends. They say and do stupid things just to do it. Teenagers want to fit in and be cool, and I was acting like every other teenager, more or less.
In high school, my friends would act all supportive and then call me a whore and slut behind my back. They’d talk about me, the constant whispers took a strain on me. That happened a lot in sophomore year. I’d hang out with them and then the next day a rumor would start about me. It hurt. So you know what, I did retaliate. I stirred the drama pot. Looking back at it now, I think I wanted to fit in, I wanted to not be the whore or the slut. Or the girl who was causing problems. I just wanted to blend in and be the wallflower. Instead, I ended up as the doormat.
I think we need to realize, or rather acknowledge and understand. that in high school, I wasn’t just going through the regular teenage stuff. We all had our own problems and issues that we were all going through. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life.
Now that’s not an excuse. I wasn’t the best friend, but it is a reason. But come on. What teenagers make the right decisions? No one does. Add in hormones and peer pressure, you get a disaster of a human beings. Then on top of all that teenage idiocy, I had adult problems.
I had to figure out how to pay for bills and food.
I had to get up early to make sure the kids got on the bus.
I had to help the kids with their home, cook dinner and clean the house.
I had all of that on top of teenage life and school work. And I think that’s why I was a doormat.
My friends got me through high school. They were my safe haven. They gave me a place to go when I needed a break from my shitty life. When I wanted to just be a teenager and that’s it.
But you know what? My friends also hurt me the most.
I put up with the whispers and the taunts because I didn’t want to lose them. I didn’t have anyone else I could turn to but my friends. So I shut my mouth, most of the time, smiled and bared it, and you know what, I did lash out after I’d had enough. Then I was the bad guy. They made me feel like I was always the problem. Like I was the one who had to apologize for my shortcomings. But they never did. They made me feel like my words were insignificant because no one ever listened anyways. They made me feel like I had to change and adapt to the situation, and then they’d call me manipulative and a liar. They’d call me fake. I got called that a lot. Along with a whore.
You know what? I did fool around in high school with different boys and a few girls. But I didn’t have sex with anyone until I was 18. After high school. I was experimenting during high school. What teenager doesn’t? I will say that it was nice when I did come out as bisexual and the support I got from my friends, it was great.
My mother on the other hand. She said it was ‘phase.’ I hated that.
But honestly, all that experimenting in high school, it was detrimental to my health. I was lonely and hurting. And honestly, I wanted to feel something. Life was rough and I wanted to feel something. It didn’t make me feel better. It made me feel worse. And I think a part of me went ‘Well if they’re going to call me a whore, I’ll give them one.’
When I got back from Iowa, I slept around. I screwed over my friends, both literally and figuratively. I burned a lot of bridges. I was angry and hurting. I thought I had finally escaped my shitty life with my shitty mother, but I hadn’t. I was right back where I started. That pissed me off. So yeah. I slept around. I messed up some friendships. I regretted it afterwards.
And when I moved to Arkansas, and I was in a better headspace, I apologized. I apologized to the guys for using them and hurting them. I was hurting and barely any of my friends reached out and thought to ask hey are you okay? What do you need? Instead, I was alone. Maybe not all the way alone but often times I felt like If I reached out to complain they wouldn’t care. That it was just typical Keely.
I know I was awful then but I was going through a lot. And honestly, I don’t think I was near as awful as I think or how people made me out to be. It doesn’t excuse it, but I have apologized, and I think it’s time that I gave my 15 year old self, my 19 year old self, and the ages in between some credit. I think it’s time I apologized to myself and to realize that I was only 15. Yes I made mistakes, but I don’t need them thrown in my face.
I was only 19, angry at the world. Yes, I slept around and screwed over some guys. But come on. What 19 year hasn’t? That’s the time to explore and figure out who you are. Now I wasn’t trying to figure out who I was. I was self-flagellating. I was hurting myself by letting guys use me however they wanted because again, I wanted to feel something. I’ve acknowledged that. I’ve apologized. I don’t need it thrown at my face every time. I needed a friend then, and I didn’t really have one. Not a consistent one.
I used to think that it was all on me why I have this habit of losing friends. Like it was all my fault. That I was the awful friend. Truth is, after a lot of thought, I’ve realized that I’m not an awful friend. In high school I wasn’t the best but I tried. Now I do more than try, but I think I have the tendency of getting friends who don’t try. I claim everyone as my best friend but I’m not theirs. I cling to them. I make excuses. I don’t see the fact they’re not a good friend to me. Like the fact I always answer their call when they need me but they are always too busy to talk. If I don’t answer then they get angry at me. How I spend a week with them and they made me feel like an inconvenience the entire time. How they treat me like an idiot, talking down at me, being condescending. How I can never get a word in edgewise. It’s always about them.
Or how when they call and want to talk about their job, and I’m excited about my job so I ramble. I realize that I messed up and I apologize to them. They had said they were hurt that I did that. So I acknowledged that and I apologized. Tell them to call me and I want to hear all about it. Because I’ve missed them and it’s been a crazy semester. I want to caught up. I enjoy talking yo them. Then they call and tell me that they want to take a break from our friendship. That they need to work on themselves before they can friends again. And it might be the truth, but also, this isn’t the first time.
It makes me wonder if I’m the problem. If they want a break from me because I did something wrong. I apologized. But they don’t want to be friends. It makes me self doubt and think I did something wrong. Was it just that incident? I apologized and I was sincere. Was I never a good friend to them? Was I never their best friend? Do they even miss me? I’ve gone through a break up and family drama and, I, of course wanted to reach out to them but I don’t. Because they don’t want to speak to me. To be friends. Do they even care? Or are they going through their life, carefree and free of my apparently awful friendship?
Perhaps it’s petty to write it here. Maybe it’s being shady or something. But I’ve never been good at speaking. I get tripped up and I stutter. But when I write, it flows. It’s why I have this blog. I’m a writer at heart. I mean this blog is called “The Inner Workings” after all. It’s all about me and in my head.
I’m almost 28 now. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. I’ve grown up. I’ve learned. I’ve evolved like a Pokémon. I’m proud of who I am and I can’t wait to see who I am ten years from now. Maybe it’s naive to think I’ll keep my friends from high school. It is naive. None of us are the same. I barely speak to those from high school. Only a few random messages and comments on FB. But that’s okay. We’ve all grown up and adapted and changed. We aren’t the same. We talk when we can and that’s enough. The congratulations and how are you doings. It’s enough.
And you know what, those two people may have not thought I was their best friend, they may have hurt me intentionally or unintentionally but they were my best friends. They may not be anymore but that’s okay. I’ve learned from them. We’ve had great times. And not so great times. But without them I probably wouldn’t have made it out of high school. At times I miss them, but I’ve got life to live. They can’t consume my thoughts because, honestly, I don’t think they think about me. I think to them I was a burden. I was some clingy girl who clung to them and they allowed it. But I wasn’t their best friend. I don’t even know if they considered me their friend. I do know that I ignored the issues. I ignored how one would talk down at me and how the other brought up my sleeping around with guys and accusing me of cheating on my bf at the time. And how they bowed out when I did something wrong. Like I was too much for them and they needed a break. I didn’t realize how much that hurt until now. How a friend just stepping away hurts. I just accepted it as normal. They’d come back and I’d apologize for whatever I did wrong. I always bowed down to them and always agreed that I was in the wrong.
But you know what? I wasn’t always. I’ve acknowledged my problems. I’ve apologized. And I’ve realized something.
I’m not an awful friend. I’m not perfect but I’m a good friend. I try.
Friends are supposed to build you up not make you feel bad about yourself. Friends are there to support you. They may not agree. They’ll give their opinion and say they don’t agree but they don’t leave. They support you through everything. And if you make a mistake, they don’t rub it in your face. They tell you that they’ve got you. Even if you make mistakes, they’ve got you. They are here. Because they’ve made mistakes too. Friends know when you want advice and when you want to vent. Friends can disagree but not argue. They can agree to disagree and understand that everyone has their own opinion. Friends are there. They don’t bow out. They stick through the ups and downs because a real friendship does that. They realize that hey you messed up and I did but we’ll get through this. Because I love you. You love me. Our friendship is worth more than this one down. Let’s work on this together because I’d rather have you in my life even when we aren’t getting along, than not have you at all. Friends are important because they help you grow and you help them grow and then there’s lots of growth. And it’s like, wow, look at us now. Look at what we’ve become. Look at what we can become.
I didn’t know what true friendship was until recently. Until my internship in DC, and I met some wonderful people. We still talk to this day, and we met in 2018. They’re some real friends. I know they have my back and I have theirs. We may stop talking for a few but we always come back and check in with each other. We get each other and it’s nice to have people who support you and metaphorically have Pom poms in the air. Always. We all build each other up and when we break down, we help and we say ‘Hey we got you.’ It’s a beautiful thing. It’s real. And I love it. I didn’t know that friendship could be like that until them. Just like I didn’t know what being someone’s best friend was until now. I think that’s a wonderful feeling.
So maybe I don’t get to keep my best friends from high school. That’s okay. People change. People grow apart. I’ll always be grateful for what they’ve taught me, and I wish them all the best in the world. But you know what, I’m doing alright without them. I have my friends and they have theirs. Maybe our paths will cross again.
Through all this I’ve realized that I need to stop acting like I am an awful friend. Like I am the bad guy and the one that’s wrong. I’m not. I’m not perfect but I’m a good friend. I try. And I think that’s more than good enough. That’s all anyone can do. Is try.