A letter to an almost friend

To my almost-friend,

This is what I was feeling that day.

I didn’t want to bother you. I don’t know why I suddenly fell so far and so dramatically, why I suddenly started crying and shaking for no reason, and so when you asked what was wrong, I couldn’t formulate any kind of reason and I felt so embarrassed to say I didn’t know. All of a sudden, all I knew was that I was overwhelmed.

You had been so kind and patient to me on so many occasions in a short period of time and I was ashamed to have to ask you again. I knew that you shouldn’t be the person I asked but there simply wasn’t anyone else.

So I took myself away and I sat on the floor in a hostel shower for hours. I wonder what you thought. When I finally got myself together, you were asleep. I wonder what you did for the rest of the time. Did you wonder where I was or were you just relieved to not have to deal with me for a while? You texted me once and I replied that I needed a few more minutes. I don’t remember if I said where I was but if I did, you decided to leave me to sort myself out. I understand that. I possibly told you to – the details are hazy – but I should have asked for help. That, at least, I know now. 

So you slept while I sat on the cold floor, the automatic light going on and off as people walked in to use the bathroom. I held my breath when they did and hoped no one was aware of the crying, panicked woman hiding behind one of the closed cubicle doors, still dressed in her coat and scarf. And you slept, or did whatever you did, while I wrapped that scarf around my neck and pulled and tightened. I don’t know what I hoped in that moment. I wanted to be dead, of course, but that was nothing new. I didn’t want to die then and leave you with that mess but at that moment I thought you probably wouldn’t care, maybe not even notice. I didn’t think I deserved to be remembered so maybe part of me thought you wouldn’t. It’s hard to explain how real those feelings were and how strongly I believed them. It’s hard to look back at them and note how insane I was. But, as with the self harm – the pinching, the punching, the cutting – that was becoming epidemic then, I think I wanted to feel something. I think I wanted an instinct to kick in as the synthetic wool tightened, an instinct to survive, maybe even to fight. But no instinct came. Instead weakness, physical and emotional, beat me. I lived not because I fought to but because I was too useless to do anything else. Eventually I stood up and came back into the room and climbed up to my bunk, waiting for you to wake up, my insides concrete and dead.

Later, I made my worst mistake. I had swallowed everything down until there was no space left and it came bursting out and didn’t stop and I was no longer me. I can’t go into details even, partly because a lot of it is blank but mostly because I still feel unutterable shame. I will always appreciate how you didn’t communicate your panic to me in those moments but I know it must have matched my own and I will always be sorry for that. I will always regret losing your friendship but more than that I will regret putting a kind and gentle person through such a horrible event.

I’ve said sorry before. In your kindness, you’ve accepted it more than once and politely kept away. I understand and I let you be – now we are happy-birthday-happy-Christmas friends – because I could apologise every day and it still wouldn’t be enough.

But here we are. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I put your through those things and I’m sorry that I ruined a friendship that could have been.

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