An Open Letter to My Toxic Friend(s)

Dear Toxic Friend,

We gravitated towards each other as if there was no question that our lives were meant to cross. I don’t remember how we first met, but I do remember the first time we exploded in laughter and got detention for it. I remember we would tell each other about our crushes and the ridiculous strategies we would come up with to make our crushes fall for us. I remember crying together about our frustrating family issues. I remember never sharing my Hot Cheetos with anyone but you. I remember trading our favorite Silly Bandz and Hot Topic accessories. And I remember always having the confidence to tell each other we should lay off on the eyeliner. Everyday on the playground with you was a new adventure.

I remember starting off freshman year alone at a new school. You were the first person to come up to me and compliment my “experimental” hairstyle. You tutored me for the hardest geometry finals. I tutored you in Shakespearean sonnets. We both failed but at least we had each other’s backs. You hyped me up enough to confront my bully. I hyped you up enough to confront your mother. We were our most vulnerable selves in each other’s company.  

College was a time for reinvention and you caught me at my most confident. I was ecstatic yet slightly nervous to meet new people. But then you came along with open arms. When I was around you, I felt challenged to better myself intellectually. You opened my eyes to different ways of thinking. Our banter was unmatched and our laughter often merged into one annoying but hilarious sound.

Even though I remember the blissful moments we had, what will never fade from my memories are the times you made me feel miserable.

It was after school on the recess court when you told me not to hang out with you during the day. It would make people think we were friends and your reputation could not handle that. It was the moment you told me that I should give up my crush on Michael because you were more his type and I would never have a chance. It was that time you had a kickback after seventh period but somehow, I was the only friend who did not get the invite. It was those times you made me feel bad for not always agreeing with you and you decided to find new friends that did. It was the hundreds of times you made jokes at my expense to feel bigger than you really were. It was those times you took advantage of the insecurities I told you about and used them as comic relief for others. It was every single time you made me feel small for not being as “intelligent” as you.

You made me retreat back into myself. All those years of building up my confidence felt wasted. I somehow continued to hold on to you as you transformed into my personal bully. Why did I settle for less and think that I would be better off with you than without you. My world felt so small in those moments. It felt like I had no one to talk to because the people around us were both of our friends. It took effort and strength for me to make new friends and learn how to trust again. I can't and I won't thank you for the shitty ways you made me feel because no one deserves a "lesson" like that. All I can do is hope that you recognize your ways and treat your next friend like the treasure they are.

Somewhere along the way I looked into the mirror and I realized I had other choices, and I made them. I just hope that anyone else who reads this can make those choices too.

Sincerely,

A Former Friend