Friday, August 28, 2009
Growing up, I went through best friends faster than I can scoop my way through a jar of peanut butter. I had self esteem issues, having been overweight my entire life (now I'm considered "average"), and I think I had a tendency to give my friendship to anybody that would accept it, no matter how they treated me, or what they thought of me.
I'm a very giving person, always wanting to hand out happiness and laughter, even if I don't get it in return. After the worst best friend that I ever had, a horrible person that contributed to the worst years of my life (someday I'll have to write about her, swap her name out to protect her identity), I pulled myself together, leveled out my head with a rolling pin and a large batch of sugar cookies, and told myself "never again". These days I don't open up to people quite as easily, I've found a best friend that I'll have for the rest of my life (the Godmother to both of my children, and the only person on this planet that really "gets" me), but I still welcome new people with open arms, just not letting them into my heart the same way I would have in the past.
One of my best friends, from around the 7th grade, until the 9th grade (I think?), was Brooke. She lived down the street from me, around the corner in a large newer house, with her hundreds of brothers and sisters. We met in the summertime, probably while I was riding my bike around the block. We'd spend hours upon hours, days even, at each others houses. I'd go with her Grandma's house, so she could take care of her horse. She'd come with me and my family out on our boat. We'd go to movies, the mall, do all of those teenage girl things that teenage girls do.
When school started, she became one of the popular girls. It was unavoidable in our small town. She was tall, athletic, and just gorgeous. Everything that I wasn't, but to me, that never mattered. I'll never forget the first time that she ignored me in the hallway. She looked directly at me, walking with her new cool friends, and then looked away as if she had never seen me before in her life. "I must have done something to make her mad. What did I do?", I wondered. We had laughed together just the night before. Maybe I had said something. Maybe she just didn't see me (but, she had). That afternoon on the bus, she smiled at me, but didn't talk to me. If she smiled... then she wasn't mad? What was going on here?!
Later that night she came over to my house, or maybe I went to hers? It was as if nothing had happened (because nothing had, happened). I didn't want to bring it up, because if she had been mad, I didn't want to remind her of whatever it was that I had done.
As time went on, this became a pattern. While we were at school she would act as if I didn't exist, not even so much as a glance in my direction, but while we were at home, she was my best friend. We would write each other notes during the day, and give them to each other after the bust dropped us off. I knew all about her popular friends, who she had a crush on, who she thought was a snob, but none of them knew about me. I was her hidden best friend. And somehow, I accepted that.
During the Basketball season I would go to the games and cheer for her. And then track season rolled around, and I would do the same for her meets. The first one at least. One day while we were hanging out at her house, her mom invited me to ride with her to an away meet, and Brooke's attitude suddenly changed. Before the night was over, she had turned into a complete bitch. There, I said it. I wasn't about to question it, because I was quite used to it. Her mom however, hadn't witness her daughter treat me like this before, and after bothering her about what her problem was, Brooke finally screamed out "I don't want you to go because you embarrass me!". Directed at me, of course.
So that was it. I knew that was how she felt, but hearing her say it out loud nearly tore me in half. She went on to explain (to her mom, not to me) about how I wasn't popular, and people didn't like me (not because I was mean or obnoxious, but because I was poor and overweight (and now that I look back, once high school rolled around, I wasn't even that overweight), nice right). Her mom told her that she was being a brat and that I was her best friend and it wasn't right to treat me that way, and I'll admit, having her on my side felt nice. It didn't change anything though. My best friend thought I was embarrassing, for no reason other than the fact that other people didn't like me. I walked out of the house crying, disgusted with myself.
Did you see what I just wrote? Yes, I was disgusted with myself.
Brooke eventually said she was sorry, but I couldn't erase her words and actions from my memory. We stopped being friends. I was sad when I saw her, jealous of the friends that took my place, but in the end I guess it was for the better.
In the above picture, we had just finished painting her bedroom, which I think was the last time that I ever went over to her house. And while she wasn't a good friend to me, we still had a lot of fun times together, and I'm grateful for a handful of our memories.
As a closer, I hope I can teach my daughter how to choose her friends better than I did when I was younger. I want to teach her that no matter what anyone else says, she is beautiful, inside and out, and not to let the opinion of another person define who she is. Ever.