on broken things, Part I

What do you do when people fail you? Not a little tiny failure, but a massive, all-consuming failure. A failure that feels like a knife in your stomach, twisting, causing you to collapse to your knees. A failure that leaves a gaping hole in the heart of you and feels like loss. A loss that separates them from you and feels all too much like grief.

Grief takes many forms. It may not always be loud, but it is far from silent. Grief makes its presence known. Grief affects every area of your life, sneaking up on you when you least expect it. It holds you hostage. Learning to live without is an enormous process, and it takes time. So much time.

You look around, and your entire life has been altered. Nothing is the same. You miss the way things were, but you can’t go back, and nothing will be the same again. You miss your friends, but they simply aren’t there anymore. They haven’t died, but they don’t think of you the same anymore, and the easy confidence, the security that you thought would last forever has been stripped away.

You see pictures of them on Facebook, on Instagram, laughing and happy, the same old group of them together, never an empty space to mark where once you would have been. If a friendship can end so simply, so easily, how strong was it really?

They were the ones who – you thought – would circle the wagons for you. The ones you thought of as second parents – perhaps more so than your own. Yet this shows you they aren’t. They aren’t forever. They are human, achingly, tragically, fragile humans.

And then you remember, anyway, how you would always end up in the back of the photograph. The one they crowded in front of, forgetting to make room for. The tag-along, the third wheel. How firmly that had become your role over the last year or two. You were leftover, the one they could always make fun of and then laugh to make it seem a joke. The insecure one, whose contributions were never valued.

You think you will never love again. You think you will never trust again. You think you’ve forgotten how to be a friend because it’s been so long since friendship – true friendship, the kind that doesn’t ask anything of you – has been shown to you, and in the dark nights you fear you’re losing your mind. You feel broken. Anxiety builds its home right next to grief within your gut, stealing your appetite until you look like a skin and bone version of the girl you once were. Your eyes are sad and your face is drawn and you wear far too much makeup, to try and hide the tell-tale dark marks under your eyes.

It is hard. It’s unspeakably hard. Any words I have on the subject are entirely insufficient. So I guess this is just to say: I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. You are not alone. 

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