Lost and Found

Now that things have calmed down a little and I’m more level headed, allow me to give you a little context for my recent explosion.

Monday morning I was sent a group text by Gia about getting together for a summer hangout time, since all four of us were home/in the state (we have a mutual friend who’s going to school in Arizona right now). Along the way of deciding dates and such, I made a simple, polite request for Gia to clean her apartment because of my health issues (allergies, mostly). I even included a remark that my allergies had been getting worse and that anything from animal hair to dust to pollen was aggravating my sinuses. And I knew firsthand that I wouldn’t enjoy myself if I had to spend most of the weekend with an ice pack to my face. Here’s where the first of the sparks fly.

Gia’s first response was half-heartedly sincere, but she had to point out that she ALWAYS tries to clean her place before guests arrive. Note the key word “tries.” Then she added that she’ll shave her cats and hire a maid service, and not to be surprised if her cats magically had all their hair back come the weekend we had settled on. If you can’t tell, this was heavy sarcasm. First off, the fact that she had to point out that she always tries to clean her place annoyed me because it’s a lie, unless cleaning house doesn’t include dishes or taking out the recyclables. Second, I can take a joke, but the sarcasm regarding her cats and a maid service was not only unnecessary but also showed me her true unwillingness to take my request seriously. For those of you who’ve had sinus infections or have allergies and no medication seems to offer relief, it’s no fun having your face hurt and not being able to do anything about it.

In any case, I ignored the sarcasm because I know that’s how her personality is. Next came the discussion of who would pick up who, what routes to take, etc. and after much discussion and a period of silence, I decided to make an executive decision: to have Jerad pick me up late afternoon that Friday so we could go up to Gia’s, and Gia could pick up our other friend around the time he was done with work. Well, earlier Gia had mentioned that she could get off work at noon and in my executive decision, I mentioned that she could use that extra time to clean her apartment before getting our other friend, not in a mean sort of way. I just know she’s busy with a full time job and she’s very tired after work and I understand that sometimes you just don’t have the energy to do something. Plus I’ve heard her mention to me several times she “ran out of time” or “didn’t have the energy” to clean the place up. So my suggestion to use the afternoon to clean was meant to be helpful, not hurtful.

Gia takes it as hurtful and responds with a photo that said, “Bitch, don’t tell me what to do,” and that I am not ok with her place and if the other two can think of a better place to meet, that would be great. To which I responded that I just wouldn’t come if she was going to be that way about a simple request. It should also be noted that I’ve been having an anxiety attack for about an hour and both of my parents have seen it and been trying to council and console me.

The next day Gia sends a message to all of us to “disregard and cancel all plans made yesterday. I forgot I had babysitting duties that weekend.” My first thought: Are you fucking kidding me? You triggered an anxiety attack on me for nothing?! And of course, this is where I snapped and deleted her from all my emails, my phone, and my social media. And then the narcissistic manipulator comes out and sends me a long text the following morning with this great sob story about how I’m immature for taking her off my social media and that I’m not the only one with medical issues; how this could’ve been resolved by a little self awareness and we could’ve talked it out like mature adults. But the way she wrote it makes it sound like she’s the victim, the only one with hurt feelings, and she pulled Jerad into it by saying something along the lines of having to mention her own health issues because “a little birdy whom apparently speaks for you had to lecture me since you apparently do not comprehend sarcasm anymore.”

I mentioned before that I recognized her sarcasm and ignored it. However, the fact that she blatantly attacked Jerad for no reason really irritated me. First of all I’m sure he wasn’t actually lecturing her. He’s too nice a guy for that. And second, I didn’t ask him to speak for me. He did that all himself, for which I thanked him in genuine appreciation for because sometimes it’s hard for me to speak at all, especially during an attack. I’m glad he wanted to be an advocate for me.

Since receiving this long text, I have not responded or risen to meet her challenge. I’ve had several long internal thoughts of writing a revenge letter or something about karma being a bitch, but up until now, I haven’t written anything down. It should also be noted that she pulled this same kind of thing when we were living together and having all the tension. She messaged me a big long spiel about everything we were both feeling at the time and when I responded via the messenger that I felt the exact same way, her retort, in all caps, was “And yet no words!” I don’t remember what else she put with that but I was hysterical and bawling my eyes out because I was desperate to end the fighting and once I calmed myself down enough, I managed to go out to the living room by her and apologize, even though I wasn’t the only one at fault. (I never got an apology from her.)

So I know where this trap goes and although I may have lost a 10 year friendship, I’ve found something more important. Confidence, self respect, and freedom from my tormentor. Being that this year is meant to be about taking care of myself and finding new things about myself, letting go of this abusive friendship is refreshing and freeing, and I feel so much lighter now that it’s finally over. It might’ve been messy and volatile, but it’s done and over with, and that’s what matters. No one has the right to bring you down and make you out to be the bad guy when you’ve done nothing wrong, though I will admit I wasn’t perfect either and things could’ve been handled better. But your reaction to a situation shows what kind of person you are, and if you need to walk away before things explode, to avoid getting burned, then don’t be afraid to walk away. Some things just aren’t worth it.

An Open Letter to My Best Friend

I wanted to write this for my best friend, to reassure her that no matter how many new friends I make, she will always be irreplaceable to me, and I know this will probably make her cry, but I want her to know just how much she means to me.

To my bestest of best friends,

I know you’re scared that I’ll make new friends and forget about you. I know you’re afraid I’ll leave you behind if something better comes along, because you don’t feel good enough. And I also know that the biggest regret I have was not staying in contact with you while I was away at college.

As I sit here, in tears myself, I think back to that feeling of utter loneliness my freshman year of college and how much time I spent by myself. How I would sit in front of my tiny tv eating popcorn, chatting with random guys online, and eventually ending up being emotionally and verbally (well, textually) abused by one of them. Your own posts detail a much worse situation during this same time period, but there is one clear message that I can take from both of our situations. We were miserable without each other, always looking and hoping for someone to see our pain and reach out to help us.

As it was, fate, destiny, social media…whatever you want to believe, brought us back together. We weren’t much better off, me being verbally and mentally abused by someone I had thought to be a friend, you under constant attack from your own family, but at least we had each other. And I appreciated every night I spent venting to you, even though I’m sure you got sick of it after awhile. I think I still have journal entries from that time and there was so much anger in me. But you listened and let me get it all out. Even now you still let me vent to you, and I want you to vent to me more, no matter how hard it is or how stupid it might sound. You walked me through one of the darkest times in my life and I regret not being there to help walk you through yours.

I’m stronger and more confident now because of your support. I’ve gained a little bit of trust that I had lost before, and I genuinely believe I can tell you anything and you won’t judge or criticize me. You might tell me I’m weird, but coming from you, that’s ok. We’re both weird. It’s part of why we work. Our demons get along swimmingly. You’re part of the reason why I started this blog. You opened my eyes to see the truly toxic people in my life and made me want to do better and be better myself. And I know you won’t stop pushing me to be my best because you can see the potential in me even when I can’t see it myself.

And even though we have our ups and downs, like when we’re fighting and not talking to each other, I remind myself that we’ll make it through the hard times too. Most times it seems like we’re not the ones fighting, but instead our own anxieties fighting against each other and making us think something’s wrong or off when it’s not. And that’s scary, because I always seem to know when I’m in the wrong after the fact and that makes me feel like an absolutely terrible friend, like I’m not good enough for you.

But I want you to know that I will always be there for you whenever you need me, to vent, to cry, to just talk. Whatever you need, I am here for you. I do care about you and your well-being, your mental state, and the environment you’re forced to live in. I care about your daughter as if she were my own. And I will always make time to see you and spend time with you. I love you so much and I can’t imagine not having you in my life, because you are irreplaceable to me. You are the best friend I’ve ever had and I will never be tired of reminding you of that. I’m grateful to have as awesome a friend as you. ❤

Letting Go

I was racking my brain trying to figure out what to write about for today’s blog post and then it came to me. Part of the purpose of this blog is to help me deal with my anxiety and let go of some of the things that bother me the most, one of which is the toxic friends I keep. There is one “friend” who is above the rest in their toxicity level, and this is because for six to nine months, she tormented me with psychological mind games and made me feel like this horrible monster. As it turns out, I wasn’t the problem. And even now that we’re no longer living together, there are a myriad of things she does and says that really piss me off.

So here’s a little bit of context. This girl, “Gia,” was someone I was aware of in high school, but was never really friends with. She was a grade above me and I only met her through a different friend of mine (who ended up stabbing me in the back later). Anyway, when I graduated and went away to college, I happened to remember halfway through the year that Gia went to the same college as I did and we started hanging out between classes after that. We really connected and introduced each other to a new anime show. She also let me play on her game systems because I didn’t have any that first year. The next two years, we decided to live together in the same dorm room, which also went well because we had differing class schedules and some nights she worked down at the building’s front desk. The following year she graduated halfway through and knowing that, we lived in different buildings that were right next to each other. Fast forward a year and a half. I had just graduated, also halfway through the year and while applying for jobs, I was accepted at one in the area where I had gone to college. However, since I didn’t live in the area, I asked Gia if maybe she would like to move in together and could look around at apartments in the area, since she already lived there for her job. Three weeks after New Years, we had moved into our new apartment and that Monday, I started my new job. It was quite the whirlwind experience. Nine months later, I was laid off and living off unemployment while searching for a new job. After we renewed our apartment lease at the start of the year, I was still between jobs and Gia decided she wanted to get a cat. Personally, I thought it was both a great idea and a stupid one. Great because I love cats, stupid because I was going to be home all the time and this cat was going to bond to me instead of her. And that’s exactly what happened, and this is when our relationship started to deteriorate. The first six or so months after getting the cat, Gia seemed to expect a certain level of “domesticity” from me. She expected me to say hi every day when she came home from work, clean the apartment regularly, and empty the dishwasher. She even told me she felt like she always had to walk on eggshells around me because she could never tell what my mood was.

First of all, I regularly emptied the dishwasher, dusted and vacuumed the apartment (except Gia’s room) for the sake of my allergies and cleaning up cat hair, and swept the kitchen floor because I liked to walk around barefoot and there was generally kitty litter (or salt in the winter) on the kitchen floor. I cleaned up her cat’s vomit whenever she threw up because we didn’t want it sticking into and staining the carpets, and when she was gone for a weekend, I both fed the cat and cleaned her litter box. The issues that Gia had with me were that I left my dishes in the sink with water in them (most often they were left there because they had food stuck to the sides of them and I was letting them soak, and would put them in the dishwasher later); she didn’t like how I played with her cat (which I did try to modify because she wasn’t my cat); and I didn’t wash the dishes very often. However, whenever there were large amounts of dishes that couldn’t go in the dishwasher, she was the one making them because she did a lot of baking and cooking for work. Excuse me for not wanting to do your dishes.

This was a very difficult six months for me. I was made to feel like this horrible, lazy, sloth-like person. My unemployment ran out and I was surviving on my savings, which meant the only things I really spent money on was rent, utilities, and food. I stopped buying the stuff for the “diet” plan I had been on, which led to me gaining back all of the weight I had lost, plus a little extra, none of my clothes were fitting anymore, and I spent more time in my room with the door closed because I couldn’t stand to be around Gia anymore. Eventually I reached out to an old high school friend, now my best friend in the world, and told her about everything I was going through and that I needed someone to talk to. My only regret was having not stayed in contact with her through college. She managed to calm me down and talk me through the rest of this ordeal. Gia and I made up enough to make it through the rest of our lease agreement and then we went our separate ways. For me that meant coming back home, which I hadn’t wanted to do, but I’m glad I did because I got to spend more time with my bestie and her daughter, who I love like a niece. Getting to spend all that time with her was great therapy because we were always laughing and being around her never left me drained, except from laughing so hard our sides hurt.

It wasn’t until 2016 that I realized just how toxic Gia really was, even when we weren’t spending all of our time together. The apartment she ended up finding she’s still living in, and I still dread every time I have to go there (although this year I have decided to not make any effort to go there unless to see another of my friends if and when they’re in the area because that seems to be the place to go…). I dread it because every time I went there last year, the counter beside her kitchen sink was piled full of dirty dishes, from the sink all the way to the wall, which is about 2-3 feet long. Her stove always has crumbs, stains, etc. on it and her small kitchen table always has a pile of stuff on it, like baking supplies that are left out, piles of mail, random empty boxes, etc. On top of this disaster, her trash can is usually full to overflowing and she has the bag pulled up out of the plastic bin as if she’s trying to maximize everything the bag can hold. The space under the counter where all of the dirty dishes are is usually full of random recyclable things that didn’t make it into the recycling bin, and last time I went, she had an enormous fort of empty boxes, trash bags, and recyclables behind the front door that went around the entire one end of the dining table. The living room is littered with cat toys, because she now has two new cats (she lost the cat that she got when we were living together), her bathroom is generally fairly clean (it’s about the only room she cleans when company comes, and directly across from the bathroom, you can see into her room and there’s usually clothes, dirty or clean, I can never tell, in a heap on her floor or draped on her drying rack. Most often they’re dropped on the floor.

It’s disgusting.

Now if that wasn’t the worst of it, she has become even more sarcastic and snarky and some of the “jokes” she makes are no longer funny. When she had sent a group text message to me and two of our mutual friends, I had turned my phone’s volume off because I don’t like group messages and several messages in, she sent a message to all of us saying that she thought I didn’t like her anymore because I wasn’t responded to her messages and I had not sent her a birthday wish. Now, in all fairness, I was already annoyed by all the message notifications so seeing this message further irritated me. Part of me was glad though because she appeared to be getting the message that I was ignoring her, but the assumed attitude the text was sent with was enough to send my own sharp response that lacked all humor. Most recently, there was a group gathering for New Years because our one friend was home from Arizona, where he’s going for his PhD, and Gia made a fuss over my asking for a salad to go with her “epic” lasagna (which wasn’t all that epic). Since we had lasagna for Christmas, I wanted something light to go with Gia’s lasagna, because I knew how she liked to cook, and it was usually very heavy and filling. She finally relented when I agreed to have at least a small portion of the lasagna but having to fight for a f**king salad was ridiculous and unnecessary. (Thankfully the one friend in this group that I still like swooped in and saved the day by trying to smooth things out and make things work. He knows about my ordeal with Gia and now seems to be trying to keep the peace between us, but he also knows about my anxiety and is way more understanding than the other two in the group.)

There are a ton of other examples, like her throwing a colossal fit over me canceling plans in July after having an anxiety attack over her boating plans (I don’t like boats) and saying I “threw a wrench in her plans, just for the sake of chaos,” which basically told me she didn’t give a damn about my anxiety. But all of these things added up to me deciding I no longer want to be friends with someone who doesn’t support my new, healthy lifestyle and who spent six to nine months mentally tormenting me, and still makes jokes that are actually demeaning. It’s going to be hard to sever the ties because I don’t like confrontation so I can’t just directly tell her I don’t want to be friends (I can only imagine the fit she’d throw if I did). Which leads me to do a more cowardly thing and to just let myself drift further away from her, ignore all correspondence, and slowly end things on my terms. It’s not the best plan, but it’s the one I’m going with right now.

I apologize for this sounding like a big gigantic rant, because I know that’s what it is, but just thinking about Gia makes me seethe with anger and that’s why I need to let her go. She’s not good for my health anymore. And if you are suffering from any kind of abuse, physical, emotional, psychological, please, please, please reach out to somebody. No one should have to go through that alone.