But the ice was always thinner / Than the papers on the table / I was wrapped around your finger / And you knew it, you knew it
– Lauren Aquilina
TW: explicit mention of suicide
I am a ghost.
I have no excuses for being a ghost. I don’t pass between walls. I don’t wail and moan. But I’ve got a bad habit of becoming an apparition, vanishing when it suits me best. I’ve ghosted them all: acquaintances, guys from Hinge, and people I once considered friends.
I’ve ghosted you.
But in the last four years, I’ve become more and more solid. It’s strange. Therapy helps even phantoms find their way. Now and then, I look back over my shoulder, to the times when I clung to haunting, to dissipating, and I cringe.
You once told me you were more logical than me. Simultaneously, you found my approach to conflict too academic. I get it. I can be obtuse. Even writing this feels clunky. For a while, though, I’ve vastly preferred speaking in person.
When you say things out loud, there’s so much more space for them to float, to dangle, to settle than on a page.
But I can’t speak to you, can I?
So, no more metaphors.
I was afraid of you.
I was afraid of your cruelty. And I don’t mean you were always cruel. I loved being your friend. When it was good, it felt like home. We had tea parties. We held onto each other through movies. We watched the sun set on your birthday.
Part of me wants to call you mean, but that doesn’t capture how it felt to anger you. I heard the way you spoke of people through the years, the calloused and easy way you’d cast people aside.
I knew the way you watched old friends from afar, revisiting their profiles online, ready to laugh at them and burn their mementos.
Believe it or not, I wanted desperately not to become one of those old friends.
Whenever I pictured the future, you were in it. You called me your other half.
I wish I’d had the words then, the courage then, to speak to you. In my way, I tried. I tried to fumble my way through how I felt, but it always came up short. It was easier to collate my thoughts on paper.
It wasn’t right of me to withhold the truth from you. When I ghosted you that March, I was a coward. But later, when I told you I didn’t feel safe, I meant it. Because for as much as you said you were logical, your anger often guided your speech the way my fear guided mine.
I’ll say only this about what I’d sent you, about race: it hurt me, more than anything, to see you fulfill the very words you scorned.
And I shouldn’t have hid how I felt from you. I shouldn’t have iced you out.
Just know I was terrified of what you might say or do to me if I’d spoken out loud. And to this day, though it pains me to admit it, I think I was right to be.
I think I was right to be afraid. I loved you, and I still have love for you. It’s been long enough that I have real hope we’ve both grown. I have hope we would approach it all differently now.
I know it wasn’t easy to be my friend, especially when I’d drown myself in depression. I still have a lot of gratitude for the ways in which you showed up for me, in how you made me laugh, in how you let me rest my head on your shoulder on bus rides.
I think that’s what stung the most, to have it all come true, you know?
I was so scared you’d hate me and that you’d turn that anger onto me. And I was scared that anger would break me.
And in a way, it did.
You nearly won. I stopped trusting people. I became paranoid. Before it happened, everyone seemed to think I was catastrophizing. You were, after all, my best friend.
So why, after I completely cut you off, though I did nothing to look at your life from afar, did you lash out the way you did? Why did J waste her time calling me names and quite frankly, why did she stalk a stranger about a situation she ended up being laughably off-base about?
Why was it so important to you, or J, or both, to harass me on a day I opened up about suicide? To more or less tell me it was good I had felt isolated?
In truth, I laughed at that email. It was absurd. It was illogical.
Worst of all, it was exactly what I’d feared from you: cruel.
You were cruel to me. I hurt you, and I never wanted to, but you did want to hurt me, didn’t you? You wanted me to hurt. And that breaks my heart.
I’m ashamed to say I nearly took my life because of you. I nearly killed myself because of you and J. I’m glad I didn’t, and it stings to think, even for a second, that if I ever did kill myself, you’d just laugh in that damn groupchat and say I deserved it.
I still have hope you wouldn’t be so cruel as to feel that way, but if I’m being honest, which I’m trying to be, I wouldn’t be surprised if you did feel that way.
The difference is I don’t want to go back to living out of fear like that.
You can hate me all you want, send screenshots to J and the others, or privately laugh to yourself.
But I hope, very earnestly, desperately, to God, that you never try to hurt somebody else the way you hurt me. And I hope you find your way to something more tender. I hope your anger is funnelled into softer things. I hope your fire brings change like your heroes do.
Mostly, I hope when you look back, like I do, that you don’t feel like a fool for loving your friend.
May whatever haunts you, the anger, the hurt, stop ruling over you. After all, you were never one to respect authority.
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