FEAR OF THE FACE.

So this post is a long time coming. I'm not sure I wanted to even write this but it's been 10 years of agony and considering I'm well into my Saturn Return, I figured there's no better time than the present. Karmic retributions aside, my essay comes with some updates. I have faced a lot of demons, I have swept a lot under the rug, I have been fortunate enough to find someone who knows everything about me and yet still loves me. So no time like the present to face old fears and speak new truths. 

My heart pounds, I'm incredibly clammy, my knees are locked, so here goes. My story starts in 2006. I had a friend, she was uninhibited, she was outgoing, she was charismatic and most of all, she was loved by all. She was sanguine, smart, street savvy. Formidable, she was not, opinionated, cutting, again she avoided anything that would assume a position of resistance. She danced a fine line of pleasing everyone that met her, while being confident enough to have an opinion. That's where I came in. I'm opinionated by birth, I would like to think I'm balanced, but I guess I have always been vocal and in most cases, polarising. People like me at first, and then quickly realise that I am always going to share my thoughts whether they like them or not. I don't take sides blindly, but I am loyal. Maybe this is a weakness, but in 27 years, I've claimed it as a strength. It has come in handy in business, in forming bonds and in being me. 

In the timeline of my friendship with her, we were very similar, we were both Indian, both interested in similar hobbies, both extroverted. But over time, our personalities conflicted, she was always the good cop, and I was an easy scapegoat. Friends mixed us up, we were grouped together for everything, identities merged, I lost myself in her. I became a people pleaser, I lost better judgement and I resented her. During University, I forged new friendships, I moved on, I kept my contacts close and prayed they didn't meet her. I was scared if they met her, they would become her friend and I would lose yet another friend I worked hard to make. You see, I was vulnerable, I worked really hard to be likeable, to be a good friend, to cultivate relationships I wasn't always good at keeping. With immaturity, lack of self-awareness and absentmindedness to blame, I simply didn't handle my friendship with her well at all. I tried phasing it out, I tried talking myself out of group events that included her, I tried distance, I even tried cutting her out of my life. Nothing worked, and I embodied a sense of bitterness that people eventually noticed. I felt like the Lauren Conrad, but people saw Heidi Montag, (clearly The Hills reference was necessary, alright?).

I needed a confidant, and I had a couple. My own friends who were objective, outside to my high school circle who could tell me straight, am I going crazy, or am I allowed to be annoyed that my high school friends merge our names together as if we're one person? Penning an emotional response to a University friend at the time, I was livid with how I was feeling. How I felt lost in this friendship. How people's ignorance of two Indian girls as one person was making me feel like my identity and presence was non-existent. How my introductions to her had now become her achievement.  In the meantime my life was spiralling at home, my parents weren't in the best of terms, my sister and I had a fragmented relationship. My friends were all I had and yet I didn't. So eventually, my grades took a beating, my social life was non-existent and then things changed. 

Months after life took hold, it was nearing the end of 2008. Her and I back on speaking terms, we went to a recital. At this recital, I was meant to meet him. But he never showed, the empty seat next to me had my high school circle in fits of curiosity. Who was this guy that she liked!? Her love interest whom she was struggling to win over, a work colleague-cum-crush showed up to our friends' Christmas celebration. There's a problem here, because he apparently was fond of me. I didn't know at the time, but the reason he turned up was to meet me. I find this out later in the month and because we're fresh into our 20's, the intrigue spurs much drama and not enough honesty. Then I received the call that would end a friendship and create what has affected me to this day. 

She finds out by hacking into my Facebook account. She calls me and tells me she knows how I feel about her, how I have breached her trust. She read in a message to a University friend about how much I dislike her and that him liking me is the ultimate betrayal. So I try to explain, as honestly as I could, heart beating in shock, that yes, I wasn't kind about her and sure I could have been open about how much our friendship was burdensome. Eventually, I hung up and told him that she found out he liked me. That I can't do anything because of it and that I had to withdraw any kind of resolve because it simply wouldn't help the situation. So months pass. I'm vilified for him liking me, in fact there are death threats, prank phone calls, a fake registration under my name in an eating disorder clinic (I was healthy, I never found out who filed an appointment under my name), and finally a Facebook page that encouraged everyone I had ever known in my hometown to join a FB hate group. It was what prompted a police phone call, a restraining order and for the first time in a year, tears. 

So I cried, and with the help of some near and dear, I got my life together. Am I forever changed by it? Yes. Did an apology from key players in this part of my life, surface? Yes, they did. Half assed apologies, no accountability and years of self-esteem issues later, I find myself writing this on the other side of the world. Why? Because I need to part with this weight. A weight that has kept me from finding out who I am. People continue to come and go in my life,  lessons learned left, right and centre. But I'm still carrying this weight and I have no idea why. I still dream up these events, I still think about what I would say if I were to see her again. I still panic when I hear her name, or see someone who looks like her, I still have her and everyone associated blocked, because if there's one thing social media allows, it's scrutiny and comparison. Before this all happened, I was opinionated, happy, even positive. But now I'm careful, mistrusting at times, but stronger for it. I know what my friendships are worth and I work hard to keep them safe. I work to be the best version of myself, in all my weakness there is resolve. In the end, my story is peppered with success, that him and I married. There was strength there that only he saw, that he fostered, and helped at times to grow. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have met him. (And no I'm not talking about Jesus. He wishes).