Editor’s note: This article discusses mental health and self-harm. If you’re struggling, please reach out to one of the supports listed at the bottom of this article. Names in this story have been changed for the privacy of those involved.
In late 2019, I made a pact with myself to expand my social circle. Due to personal circumstances, I was unable to make friends in the “real world,” so I made friends online. It wasn’t anything new to me, and it was something I was actually quite good at. I was desperate for a real connection. I would have sacrificed anything for it, and I did.
I met a few people in a new group chat — casual talk, nothing out of the norm. I tried to make friends with everybody there to no avail, as it seemed that nobody wanted to put in the work to be friends with me.
The group chat creator, Nylah, and I had spoken a few times in the chat, and we eventually became acquaintances — not quite friends, but we definitely liked talking to each other when we could. In this particular corner of the internet, Nylah knew her way around. She had practically known everybody, knew a lot the “cool” jokes, and was essentially the “popular” kid. One day, Nylah introduced the entire group chat to her partner, Alfie.
Desperate to make the group laugh, and so Alfie could feel welcomed with humor, I quickly typed “Can I call you olive?” with a laughing emoji. To my surprise, Alfie did not like the name, so I immediately dropped it. I introduced myself and got to know Alfie in the group chat.
They eventually left the group chat due to inactivity, but to me, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to find a friend. I promptly went to private message them, trying to open a conversation with them. This instantly spiraled into me comforting Alfie about their relationship with Nylah and why they were having problems.
I learned why the two were having issues, and I sat by my computer for what felt like hours talking to Alfie. It went from them crying to me being doubled over in pain from laughing so hard at videos we had shared. Before I knew it, we were friends. I was ecstatic, as this was the first friendship where I felt truly understood. I truly would have believed pigs could fly before I believed that the friendship was temporary.
This lasted for a good two weeks, until they had relationship issues, once again. This on and off situation occurred a few more times before I decided to side with Alfie, seeing as Nylah was wrong most times. Each time they argued, I was merely their referee. They hadn’t cared about how I felt or how I shouldn’t have been forced to mediate the arguments. I hadn’t noticed, but this was the start of what I now consider my wake-up call.
Nylah hated me at that point, but Alfie and I were closer than ever before. I can only assume that this angered her, but at the time I figured they would sort it out themselves.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape their relationship drama. It all sounded the same after a while, and it was evident that they weren’t compatible. I didn’t say anything until Alfie threatened to harm themself over Nylah. Have you ever been on a rollercoaster, at the top of the ride, and your heart flies up and out of your chest right before you drop? That was exactly what it felt like then.
After I talked them out of harming themself, they often apologized and said that I didn’t have to help them. But, of course, I continued to, because who wants to know their friend is dead?
This became a regular thing for Alfie to do to me, and, at those times, I felt like a caregiver instead of a friend. They would constantly use me as somebody to unload their emotional baggage on.
The pressure of that responsibility was unbearable and made me quick to avoid telling them about my own serious issues. When I did, however, they didn’t care about them. They’d tell me that they “weren’t able” to help me. This happened countless times, and I was still completely oblivious, chalking it up to them dealing with their own issues.
One day, I mustered enough courage to tell Alfie about how I felt, and how I felt like I was an emotional bandage for them. They blatantly denied this and made me feel as if my feelings were minuscule.
This cycle of me helping them, me getting emotionally exhausted, me expressing my feelings, and getting disregarded finally came to a stop on January 20th, 2021. Days prior, I had a gut feeling about what was about to happen, but of course, I ignored it.
Alfie broke up with me because Nylah was threatening to break up with them if they didn’t break up with me.
“You allowed a stupid emotionally dependent leech from Alaska to use you, how stupid are you?” was a question that haunted me for weeks.
Never-ending torment and intense unforgiving emotions raged throughout my body. Some days I was seething. Other days I was sent into a frenzy, overthinking every little aspect of our friendship. Honestly, if I could go back to January 20th, 2021, I would, and I would say nothing but foul and despicable things to Alfie.
As stupid as it seems in the end, I learned to hate the people who hurt me. Surprisingly, I didn’t prior to this. It was a crucial element to me fully loving myself as I do now. This experience has done nothing but allowed me to grow, and also stop holding back from people as to “not make them uncomfortable’.
Now, after a few months, I am a completely different person. I’m focusing on my writing, getting good grades, becoming a published author, and letting things that no longer serve me go. All of these are things that I couldn’t have done prior to this experience.
Looking back, despite my suffering, I am grateful for this experience. It taught me to love and cherish myself, even during challenging times.
If you are interested in mental health treatment, you can research options and apply for financial support using the To Write Love on Her Arms Find Help Tool.