They forgot about me.
The familiar but intense feeling growing in the pit of her stomach is not what she wanted to deal with today as she realizes that, again, she is going to be alone for the evening while the people who have the audacity to call her their friend laugh and make memories and have fun together.
I am not going to be here only when it’s convenient for everyone else. I am not a doorstop. I am not going to be the friend everyone keeps separate from the rest of their lives.
She will, though. She will forgive them when they want to invite her somewhere last minute. She will give them the benefit of the doubt. She will be their sometimes-friend because the loneliness will start to feel like too much soon enough. She will be grateful that somebody pays attention to her.
It isn’t a big deal. You know this feeling. It may not pass, but it will lessen. Breathe.
It’s been there for years, though she’s tried to interpret the truth in a thousand better ways. None are great, but all are better than the reality she has to face: she is the second choice.
Or third, or tenth, or last.
Everyone she has ever let in, the people she considers the most special to her, like to keep her at a safe distance. On the back burner, conveniently sitting around until they decide they have time for her company. That time seems to decrease the more they get to know her.
What does that say about me?
It started as a small child, maybe 6 or 7, when she would spend her afternoons with a girl in her neighborhood. They played dress-up, wrote secret letters to one another, went on adventures, annoyed their siblings, did everything that little kids were supposed to do together. One day, she arrived at her dear friend’s house to find the door locked. She knocked, and knocked, and knocked again. The next day, she did the same. The day after, her friend’s mother answered the door to regretfully tell her that they were simply too busy. She stopped coming over for a while in hopes that her friend would come to her house, despite never doing so in the past. Her friend did not, and after almost two weeks of waiting, she tried once more.
She knocked, and knocked, and knocked again. This time her friend answered, but she wasn’t alone. There was another girl, a prettier girl with long blonde hair cascading perfectly down the front of a skinny body in an expensive dress. The girl stood there where she used to be everyday, looking like such a better fit for her friend than she could ever be. The girl and her friend looked at each other, exchanging a silent conversation like the ones she used to be so familiar with. She felt like she was awaiting her fate to be decided.
Ask me to join, please. I can be fun too.
Through a series of giggles, they told her to come back some other time.
She grew older and quickly picked up on this reoccurring pattern. People grew tired of her. They came, pretended they would stay, and left her for someone who was a better fit. Even the only boy she loved, the one who made promises of forever and kissed her like she was his whole world, decided that he wanted better things. Better people.
Somehow she isn’t bitter, despite being aware that every friendship and relationship alike ends up with the same result. At least I can enjoy them for a little while, she thinks. She’s learned to appreciate being the sometimes-friend and the plan-B and the backup. It’s a lot less responsibility than being an always-friend.
On top of it all, she holds on to the hope that one day she will find someone who stays because they want to, who always chooses her, who loves her even when it isn’t convenient, who maybe feels a little bit like she does. And that will make it all worth it.
They will be all worth it.