Tonight’s one of those nights where I can’t silence the voices in my mind, so I’m letting my fingers do the work; I’ll just write.
I’m still trying to be honest with what I feel and maybe this is what I actually feel when it comes to those earlier write-ups on friendships forged in the era of the internet:
I have this fear of friends leaving me behind – abandoned, forgotten… I don’t yet know the exact words or terms to use, but I know this fear. I recognize it too well and have acknowledged its presence from as young as when I was seven years-old.
I have this fear of being told, “I’m done putting up with you.” Have had enough, done… I have this fear, a genuine one, of being told, “You’re so difficult.” How many times have I heard those same words, that same statement, in the past? I have this fear of being told that I am no longer wanted or cared for – no longer a once-dear friend. No longer part of a close-knit circle.
It’s silly, I know, but there are some childhood crutches that we carry with us even in adulthood. It’s silly, I’m absolutely aware of it – but the devils under our beds were never actually put to sleep forever, you know? The reality is, they lie dormant in wait. I have this fear of impermanence, despite knowing and understanding – especially now, as an adult – how silly that fear is because nothing lasts forever. “Never define your worth and happiness on other people,” was what Eldest Sis often advised me, “because people will always disappoint.” In fact, to be honest, her first life lesson to me was this: “I can’t – won’t – promise to be there for you because both you and I would know it’s a lie. I can’t even be there for me. I can’t always be there for myself, how can I promise you I’ll always be there for you? You have to learn to be there for yourself.”
I have shaped an entire life, a whole being, around those words – scared silly that I’d hear them again.
“You’re so difficult.” How many times have I heard this in the past?
I’m trying not to obsess over those words, that statement – I’m trying to be a mature adult, learned enough, about this. I’m trying to take this like a woman. I’ve long lowered my expectations on people that there’s practically nothing there; if you’re going to stay, I would love to have you but if you’re going to leave, that’s fine by me too. You’re welcome to do whatever you want and therefore, so will I. And maybe this explains some too, why I sometimes do stupid things, say silly things, as if testing the care and love a person has claimed to have towards me. Because I have this fear, a genuine and pressing one, that these friends – even those found in a virtual world – will in the end, join a long list of friends I wish I could and have erased completely, friends who at different points in time and my life phases have left me behind, abandoned, or simply moved on from me because while I may be too much of this or too little of that, one thing is constant: “You’re so difficult.”
I have this fear, in a frustratingly long list of fears:
When you know my crutch, some of my deepest fears – can you, will you, use them against me?
Because we’re virtual to each other – admit it, in the most fundamental way we are – there’s nothing to hold onto, neither for nor against each other. We could easily disappear from each other’s cyberspaces within seconds, erase all traces and wipe clean memories. Words are both a vice and a weapon in cyberspace – they are a necessity here, a tool to express both what we mean and don’t. Sometimes I don’t know what to believe because if words are the only tools I have to believe in another person, maybe that’s not enough – maybe that’s in truth, nothing?
But maybe I am, in truth, afraid of being forgotten; a hard reset, swift reboot.
I think the true reason that I am a sucker for friendship, coming-of-age stories is because until now, at age twenty-four, I continue to look for my own island of belonging in a sea of friendship circles. I do alone well, but not loneliness. I survive just fine by myself, but I have never said no to company. I can care for my heart, but I am always eager to give a piece away. I am gentle with my soul, but careless with the way I hold it in my palms. I think the love I have for myself is a bottomless pit; I am at times content with its fill and other times hungry for more, but all the while aware that I can’t do it alone.
I think what breaks me, or maybe just scares me, about friendships forged in the era of the internet is that while there is a lot of sincerity – and there’s a lot of sincerity, I am not denying that; I know what I feel, both towards others or in response to others’ words – the very premise is impermanence. There’s very little, or I don’t know if I actually can, hold on to them. Because once we lose contact, for instance a once-regular reader I’ve always only known by pseudonym stops visiting my blog – I’ve no way to contact the person again. Regardless how valuable our conversations were in the past and no matter how much I might have admitted as much to her out loud – once she or I disappears, that’s it. There are no stakes to ground us. We’re just moments in each others’ lives, like those fleeting tweets we put out or these soon-to-be-forgotten blog postings.
I know that I should quit being so hung up about the word virtual, constantly questioning and therefore doubting what’s real. I am, after all, well-aware that even in the physical world, people say things they don’t mean and walk away from our lives all the time; it’s unfair of me to hold others, anyone, to standards and expectations that aren’t even upheld in the real world. I know this insecurity has got to go; I’m supposed to be content with all that I’m given, including people who walk into my life irrespective virtual or real. I’m supposed to be thankful, not greedy, of the connections I’ve made. I know many things in theory, you know this and plenty about me by now – I’m just not always smart about what I do with what I know.
Because I think in the end, maybe this is it: this fear of being left behind, forgotten, erased, conveniently moved on from… this fear overrides many things. Sometimes I think I await the moment these words pay a visit again, “You’re so difficult.”
Admitting this requires another confession: I don’t do friendship breakups well.
I am weak and silly when I love, loyal to a fault. I hold my heart on my sleeve, face, and words – I say and write what I mean in whatever mediums I exist in. This is both my strength and weakness. I am not pretentious; if I don’t like you, I promise you that you and everyone in the room will know it. Sometimes I think I am too open to a fault, an invitation to myself that has all the potential to turn awry. But my biggest flaw, I think, is viewing and taking in cyberspace, virtual reality, as a world that is as real as the physical world. No matter how learned or naive I may be, I just don’t know how not to be real.
This fault is a fear: even in an illusion, I constantly seek for and exist in reality.