Thursday, May 14, 2009


A few weeks ago my sister messaged me on Facebook. "You need to check out Hazel's page," she said. "She looks just like you now. She even has a boyfriend with a goofy smile like P's. It's like she's trying to be you."

(Please note that the individual's name is not really Hazel.)

I didn't really believe her. But I wrote on the wall of a friend who is friends with Hazel (Hazel and I no longer speak for a myriad of reasons) and there was her picture.

It was creepy. Her hair was the same length as mine. The same shade of red as mine. Her bangs are even cut the same and parted to the same side.

I couldn't resist. I checked out her page.

Sure enough, she's dating a guy who is faintly reminiscent of P. She's still a theater major and English minor, just like me. And then the thing that killed me...she's studying voice-over acting.

I will never get out from under her shadow. Never. I will always be a lesser person than her. She's always going to be prettier than me, more talented than me, more well-liked than me.

And she thinks I'm a selfish, self-centered, hysterical diva. I'm not even kidding. When we lived together (we lived in the same suite at school), she made it quite clear that I was just an over-emotional baby who needed to grow up. I freely admit that I am emotionally high-strung. Sixteen years of clinical depression will do that to a person. I have worked hard to grow up and mature and learn how to function like normal people do, and while I don't always succeed, I really do try.

But then I read this on her page:

"And I know, even a few of you smart guys are like, 'Everyone's equal, everyone's opinion is equal; everyone matters.' No. Everyone is equal, until the point they decide to open up and show the world how stupid and ignorant they actually are."

The mutual friend I mentioned above has the exact same quote on her wall. And it was put up about this time last year. Because, you see, there was a debacle last May. I had spent so long in emotional turmoil that the deterioration of my strongest relationship (which Hazel was a factor in) was, to put it bluntly, killing me. I had gotten two separate stress-related illnesses, my hair was falling out, I was constantly crying or hyperventilating over was just a bad situation, and I needed to get out of it. I needed the time and space to heal. And part of this healing process involved telling exactly what I felt, instead of hedging around the issues and lying in order to preserve the shaky peace and then calling P in hysterical tears because I couldn't function anymore. So I wrote my friend a long and painful letter, slept on it, and emailed it the next day.

It was incredibly rough, but once the initial tsunami of emotion was over, things got better. I was actually terrified to face her at church the next Sunday, but she actually hugged me...for the first time in a long time. Things were still very risky for a while. I still remember the time P called me when he was over at her brother's house, and I could hear her laughing in the background, and I broke down and sobbed. He tried to make me feel better by pointing out that I was making friends with other people, and maybe one of them would be a suitable best friend. I surprised both of us by blurting out, "I don't want a new best friend, I just want her!"

I don't know if P ever told her about that, or if she just went through her own mental processes, but we're friends again. I would even hesitate to say best friends. She chose to live down the hall instead of in the same suite, and it was the best decision for our friendship. We made time to see each other, we had special sushi-and-movie nights, we watched TV shows together. We even had a night during exam week where she was on her laptop and I read Cosmo while we watched adult swim, and she grinned at me and said "This is just like old times!" I'm so glad that we're back to being major players in each others' lives. It was one of the greatest terrors of my life that she would fade out of my life like so many other friends have, and I would, yet again, be all alone.

At the same time, damage has been done. When my friend and I had our initial falling-out at the beginning of last summer, both Hazel and another mutual friend dropped me from their lives. For the past year they've acted like I don't exist. And it hurts.

I want people to hate me or to love me. It's great when people love me. It makes life easier. When people hate me, I either win them over (like P's best friend and his sister) or I just learn to move on with my life (like with P's best friend's ex-girlfriend, which is another story for another emo-day). What hurts the most is when I don't matter enough to be loved or hated.

Hazel didn't love me. She didn't hate me. We were simply two people in the same circles.

To this day, I don't think she knows how much she's affected me, and to be honest, I don't think she would really care to know. She hates over-emotion. It would never matter to her what I say or what I do. Even if I called her up and said "Look, I know we've had our differences. I know we were such passive-aggressive rivals. I'm sorry for my part in it. I'm sorry what I've done," she wouldn't care. I don't think she would even acknowledged that she hurt me in any way, that it was just me being hypersensitive.

I hate living my life to beat her, but that's how I've been stuck for so long. I've tried to be a better friend than her. I've tried to be a better actress than her. I've tried to be prettier than her. I've tried to get people to love me more than her.

It's a poisonous way to live.

It didn't really start until I invited her to visit my church. And afterwards, people came up to me and said, "Oh my gosh, Hazel is just like you, only more."

More what?

More attractive?

More likeable?

More talented?

More socially adjusted?

Nothing hurts worse than being told that a fellow human being is "more" than you. It means you're not enough, and you'll never be enough, so you'll be replaced.

And I was replaced.

She's been out of my life for a while, but I still don't feel like myself. I feel that I am overly defensive. I feel that I am bitter. I feel that I am always looking for a fight. I feel that I am lost.

I just need to know that there is a place for me, and that there will always be a place for me. That no one will ever feel the need to replace me, because I am enough.

All I want is to be enough.

I've struggled with this for a long time, even before Hazel sauntered into my life. A lot of people talk about friends they've had since kindergarten or elementary school or even middle school. I don't have any of those. In fact, the only friends who have stuck by me for any stretch of time are people I met as a senior in high school.

I'm kind of a ding-dong-ditch friend. Even now, I get that. It's a vicious cycle. At first, I'm super close with the person. We're completely attached at the hip. Then something happens: they meet a newer, more exciting friend or we squabble over something or drama happens or something. Then they reject me...either by slowly drifting away, rebuffing my attempts to hang out or talk, or spectacularly, with public accusations and derisions.

The strongest memory I have is from my sophomore year of high school. My best friend at the time invited me and three of our mutual friends to a sleepover. I was excited- I was finally getting invited places. But then she sat all of us down, and with the three other girls present, she proceeded to spend an hour detailing all of my faults and how I could fix them. At the end of it, she had the audacity to pat me on the shoulder and say, "Oh, I'm so glad you didn't cry."

I couldn't cry. I was too shocked.

A few years later, one of the three witnesses emailed me and, on behalf of the two other girls, apologized for not saying anything. They knew that this was wrong, but they were too scared of the other girl to stop her.

I have closure now, and the girl and I have since made our peace, but that is a pattern that has followed me all my life- getting mocked and getting rejected, while everyone stands around with their mouth agape, watching me crumble and apologizing when it's all over.

Remember when I mentioned P's best friend's ex-girlfriend (whose codename is Gladys)? There was a big blow-up about her, and two of my closest friends bailed out on me. One of them chose not to get involved because Gladys had always been nice to her, and the other one had been emailing Gladys back-and-forth for two months, hearing all the lies that Gladys had to say about me without getting my side of the story. It hurt so badly that I lost my temper over it...and I'm still apologizing over that. (It was more than just losing my cool, I let my full-blown temper fly for a good hour, and it was totally uncalled-for). At the same time, I felt I was getting rejected again, and I felt like I had to fight.

Unfortunately, I fight too much. In the past year I've become a person I don't like, and I hope that going away for a while will allow me to get back to the person I used to be, a person I liked a whole lot better.

I'm sorry for all the angst. This has just been bottled up for a long time, and I need to let it out. I feel like I can never get past this if I never talk about it, and there just hasn't been a good time or place or uninvolved sounding board. So yeah. Thanks, internetz.

And if there is only one thing you take from all this: never, ever, under pain of death, tell another living, breathing, human being, that someone is "more" than they are.
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