Journal,  Memoir

I Lied About My Life

I never had an easy time making friends. If you read my last post, “23 Meadow Way” you know that we moved around a lot, often urgently without getting to say goodbye to any friends I did have. When I got to a new school I was the weird kid, the quiet kid, the poor kid in decades-old hand-me-downs who rarely looked up from the floor or desk.

When I did make friends they never stuck around for long, and in the early days that real life unfriending usually followed me sharing something about my life that highlighted how damaged I was and bummed people out. Over time I learned that the more people knew about my life, the more likely they were to leave it. Certain parts of my story made classmates uncomfortable, and certain parts of my life made their parents hesitant to invite me for sleepovers or allow their kids to come over to my house. It felt like they thought my trauma would rub off on them, like it was contagious.

When the pattern kept repeating itself I started building defenses against it. I remember telling people I didn’t have a father at all, that I was a test-tube baby. I would make up stories about my past that had no basis in reality, but I thought these narratives might make me easier to be around. I told people my dad died, or that my mom went to a sperm bank in order to have me. I tried to frame myself in a way that was less sad, more easily digestible, more wholesome. It would work for a little while, but the stink of child abuse comes from beneath the skin of our outward mask, where it festers in the dark. Sooner or later, at every stage of my life, everyone left.

There were friends I’d have for a year or two, maybe more. As I got older, people were more accepting, but I was never anybody’s best friend. When you move around so much, you meet a lot of people who already have best friends from kindergarten. I always wanted that. I never wanted a big friend group, just one best friend or a few close friends to have a deep connection with. I’ve had plenty of coworkers I get along with. I’ve had friends as an adult, but there comes a point where suddenly they don’t have time for my anymore. Plans get cancelled over and over until they never get rescheduled. Messages slow and then grind to a halt. Everyone carries on with their separate lives and I’ve never found a way to reverse that so I let them drift. Deep down I know I can’t really blame them.

I haven’t lied about my life in many years now. I have embraced my history and who I am. I’ve written a lot about it, and some of that has helped people. I wear my mind on my sleeve, and I’m still not great at making friends. Most of the people I consider friends these days I’ve met through a shared love of books with my Bookstagram account, but even then people tend to drift away after a while and it’s hard not to think it’s because there’s just something about me so deeply broken that I can’t see but others can, that makes me difficult to be around. I feel very grateful to say that I do feel like I finally have a best friend. Taylor, if you’re reading this, thank you for being a real one and sticking around even through all my darkness. It’s a pleasure to do the same for you. 🖤

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