We’ll call her ‘Lila’ for anonymity’s sake.
I really wish I had had the courage to tell you this while we were at school together, but I guess now I’ll have to settle for an anonymous letter on the internet.
We used to be really good friends. We had a really good story about how we met, and then first semester of sophomore year we ate lunch together every day. At that point I’ll admit that I considered you one of my closest friends.
But by senior year, we weren’t friends anymore, and it was mostly because I got cold and distant without ever giving you an explanation.
So you deserve to know why I stopped considering you my friend years before you realized our friendship was over:
The truth is, it wasn’t me, it was you.
I don’t think you ever realized how much you hurt me or how, but let me explain. There were a lot of things that contributed to it, but I can pretty much group it into two categories: big and small.
Let’s start with the latter category: small. This category includes all of the small instances that made me feel terrible about myself, or that injured my confidence, or that made me feel ashamed of myself. I obviously don’t remember every instance, but here are a few that particularly stand out:
–There was that time when the Giants won the World Series and I invited you to skip school with me to go see the parade. You knew by then how important baseball was to me, yet you chose to decline my invitation by saying “I want to go to college, not baseball”. A simple “no” would have sufficed and wouldn’t have made me terrible about doing something I love.
–There was the time when Robin Williams, my favorite actor, committed suicide and I confided in you that I was sad because of it. After I said that, you mocked me for being too ‘mainstream’. Never mind the fact that a few months earlier I had sat with you for an hour after you broke down sobbing because Shirley Temple had died of old age surrounded by loved ones.
–There was the time when you were so desperate to prove yourself smarter than me that you jumped in to answer a question someone had asked me on a subject. That one was a bit of an insult to my intelligence, but you made your point. From that day forward, everyone did go to you when they needed help on that subject.
–There was the time when I was talking about how I was struggling in AP English (math and science have always been my stronger subjects) and I confided in you, and you told me that “only English majors should be taking AP English”. I didn’t know that I wasn’t allowed to broaden my horizons, nor did I know that you were supposed to be in charge of which classes I took and didn’t take.
And now, the ‘big’ category:
Every day we talked or hung out together, you always made me feel like an inferior human being. Whether consciously or subconsciously, you seemed determined to make me understand that you were better than me in every respect. Not only did you parade your accomplishments around in an effort to make yourself look better and me look bad, you also had to tear down my accomplishments and successes to make me feel worse about myself. At the end, it felt like you only saw me as the coffee girl – a way of getting a caffeine fix without having to accompany five blocks to get it yourself. And I understand that you probably had a lot of self-esteem issues, but you didn’t have to make me feel terrible in order to feel better about yourself.
And to be honest, I’m partly to blame here. I was so lonely in high school that I allowed myself to sink back into this poisonous friendship, even when my family and real friends kept asking me why I was still friends with you. I should have told you years ago how miserable you were making me, but unfortunately I didn’t and I have to settle for this. Maybe you’ll even see this letter, and you’ll think, “Wow, that sort of sounds like me” but for some reason I doubt it, because if there’s one thing I figured out about you it’s that you always have a way of exonerating yourself from all blame.
Anyway, we’re both going off to college, me to study math and you for music, and we’re never going to see each other again. I would say “See you at the reunion”, but I think you can tell that I won’t be going.