We talked about that one place in my heart that I can’t get over. It comes up occasionally. We talk it over a bit. He wants me to try to find a solution. I usually nod my head and try to forget again.
This time it’s sticking to the walls of my brain, begging me to at least give it some words strung together as a validation for the anxiety it manages to produce.
Life is all about work. My experiences in the past have taught me enough to get by. When there’s a hitch, I’ve got some great tools lined up in my handy toolbox for all types of troubles. Sometimes things need the ax, and that’s when I cut toxic people or things out of my life, and sometimes a screwdriver can tighten up loose ends. Construction is full of demolitions, repairs, and creation. (Forgive the coarse analogy. When you live with a carpenter you’ll understand…)
But I don’t have to tools to deal with this one…
It came back to me when I saw a picture on Facebook, that wonderful site that has horrifying memories lined up, waiting to hit you with a friend request, a friend suggestion or a notification that you’ve been tagged.
We were standing on the stairs of our school in our uniforms. Arms were thrown over shoulders and faces were arranged in more flattering angles as the group posed for someone. Click. And there I stand, right in the middle, with strangers all around.
Everyone was tagged and the comments were the usual banter of teenage nightmares. Someone else, a friend of someone who knew someone, piped up about the only one not tagged and provided them with my married name. And I was promptly tagged.
I don’t know how we became that group. My family background, religious affiliations, and basic thought processes make the friendships seem off and misplaced from where I stand today, but back then I was confident and comfortable with it. Maybe that was my mistake. Maybe I should have known that they could never really be my friends…
It’s not a long story, it may not be a story at all, but the memory is of me, trusting in the friendships a teenage girl cultivates for what seems to be centuries, confiding in my close-knit circle, reaching out with pain and an honest desire for help, and watching the arms recede from my shoulders, the faces turning away, as I was left standing on the stairs, alone.
At sixteen, the only safety a girl knows is the circle of friends that she devoted her entire life to. At sixteen, a girl needs to know that she has someone to lean on. At sixteen, a girl can feel like dying when she realizes that, at sixteen, her world turned on her, spit her out, and never thought about her again.
So, don’t be my Facebook friend because you were curious to see whatever happened to me. Don’t pretend I didn’t exist as you blithely tag yourselves around me. And please, please hear me when I tell you that the way you treated me when we were sixteen has etched its way into my heart and is now clawing on the sides of my brain demanding to be revealed.
You abandoned me.
And it still hurts.
You can get the ax now.